US President Donald Trump on Wednesday took on Twitter’s version of a penalty shoot-out in a row with US soccer stars at the FIFA Women’s World Cup over visiting the White House.
US cocaptain Megan Rapinoe kicked off by issuing an expletive-reinforced thanks-but-no-thanks before Trump had even issued an invite.
“I’m not going to the fucking White House,” Rapinoe said in a video clip of an interview with Eight by Eight, a Web-based soccer magazine. “No. I’m not going to the White House.”
The comment, lasting a few seconds, went viral.
Rapinoe is not just any soccer player, but a pillar of the reigning women’s world champion team, who face hosts France in the quarter-finals today.
Instantly recognizable with her dyed, short hair, Rapinoe is also one of the highest-profile openly lesbian celebrities and no stranger to expressing her opinions.
Then again, Trump is not just any president.
“Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear,” Trump said on Twitter.
Trump noted that he had not yet invited the team, but said that he was now doing so.
“I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose,” he said, calling himself “a big fan.”
However, Rapinoe “should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job,” he added.
The spat marked the latest politicization of what used to be the relatively innocent tradition of presidents treating successful athletes to a tour of the nation’s most famous address.
US defensive keystone Ali Krieger rushed to Rapinoe’s side.
“I stand by @mPinoe & will sit this one out as well,” Krieger, who is also outspoken on gay rights, said on Twitter.
Upping the temperature in the dispute, she referred to multiple women’s allegations that they were sexually assaulted by Trump.
The president has said that he was falsely accused, including by women seeking to extort money.
“In regards to the ‘President’s’ tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you,” Krieger wrote to Trump. “I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable.”
Rapinoe has form, having supported former NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel, rather than stand, during renditions of the US national anthem at games to protest racism and police brutality.
She initially also kneeled, but then shifted to standing with the rest of the team while refusing to sing or place her hand on her heart.
Champion NBA teams have not visited the White House since former US president Barack Obama left office and this year’s basketball kings, the Toronto Raptors, would not visit, even if they do get an invite, according to guard Danny Green.
Last year, Trump issued a last-minute cancelation of his invite to the NFL Superbowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles because of support in the team for kneeling in protest during anthems.
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