Trump Criticizes Megan Rapinoe Over Refusal to Visit White House

PARIS — President Trump criticized the American soccer player Megan Rapinoe in a threetweet blast on Wednesday morning after she said in an interview, using an obscenity, that she would not go to the White House if the United States wins the Women’s World Cup.

Mr. Trump said Rapinoe “should never disrespect our country, the White House or our flag.”

“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!’’ Mr. Trump wrote, and then said he would invite the team to the White House win or lose. The United States plays the host France on Friday in a bid to advance to the semifinals.

He made a range of comments — touching on the N.B.A., too — and concluded by urging Ms. Rapinoe to “be proud of the flag that you wear.”

Mr. Trump took to Twitter after a video of Ms. Rapinoe’s interview went viral. In it, she used an obscenity to dismiss the idea of visiting the White House.

Ms. Rapinoe, 33, has been an outspoken critic of the president, and caused a stir in 2016 when she became one of the few white players to join Colin Kaepernick and others when they were leading an ongoing protest against racism and police violence by kneeling for the national anthem at sporting events.

[Megan Rapinoe has long had an independent streak. Read our profile.]

Ms. Rapinoe, a co-captain of the team, is also a party to its gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. She is gay and is an outspoken supporter of L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

U.S. Soccer rewrote its rules for national team players after Ms. Rapinoe’s kneeling protest, and now requires players to stand respectfully for the anthem. Ms. Rapinoe chose not to contest the new rule, and has stood silently for the anthem ever since.In May, Ms. Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports “I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.”

Trump’s criticism was sparked by comments Ms. Rapinoe made in January during a photo shoot for the cover of a soccer magazine. On Tuesday, the magazine, 8 by 8, tweeted an excerpt from the interview in which she answered a question about going to the White House and strongly declined the very idea.

U.S. Soccer said it would have no comment on Ms. Rapinoe’s remarks, which it noted were her own views.

The traditional White House visit of sports champions has become a polarizing theme under Mr. Trump, with some players declining to attend. In May, several members — all Latino or African-American — of the World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, declined to attend a reception with Mr. Trump.

In an article in Time published last month, Alex Morgan, another star on the soccer team, said she would not go to the White House if the team was invited.

On Twitter on Wednesday, another teammate, Ali Krieger, said she stood by Ms. Rapinoe and “will sit this one out as well.”

“I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable,” she added.

In his tweets regarding Ms. Rapinoe, Trump started a tangent about the N.B.A., saying it was the only league that had not accepted the traditional invitation to the White House after a championship. No N.B.A. champion has visited the White House since the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, when President Barack Obama’s second term was winding down.

Mr. Trump took another shot at the N.B.A. by saying that the league “now refuses to call owners, owners.” This week Commissioner Adam Silver told TMZ that the league had moved away from using the term. Mr. Trump digressed to cite some of his administration’s accomplishments before returning to the matter of Ms. Rapinoe.

Mr. Trump initially tagged the wrong Twitter account, citing @meganrapino instead of @mpinoe. The incorrectly tagged account responded in good humor, saying that the president was likely to be a boon for getting followers. (By 3 p.m. Wednesday, the account had more than 2,000 followers.)

The error was corrected shortly afterward.


Andrew Das reported from Paris, and Victor Mather from New York.