Megan Rapinoe, co-captain of the U.S. women's soccer team, said she wouldn't visit the White House if the team wins the World Cup in a video clip published Tuesday, and President Trump responded in a series of tweets Wednesday.
Rapinoe's remarks surfaced in a short video interview with soccer magazine Eight By Eight. Asked by a reporter if she was "excited" to go to the White House, Rapinoe scoffed and emphatically replied, "I'm not going to the f*****g White House." She added, "No. I'm not going to the White House. We're not gonna be invited. I doubt it."
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump cautioned Rapinoe to seal the deal first, and also extended an invite to the team.
"I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women's Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven't yet," he tweeted. "We haven't yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose."
Mr. Trump told The Hill on Monday it wasto protest during the national anthem. He repeated his comments again. "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. The USA is doing GREAT!"
Rapinoe, who previously told Sports Illustrated that she had no interest in visiting the White House, explained further in comments made to Eight By Eight that she may not even get a chance to decline an invitation anyway. "[Trump] tries to avoid inviting a team that might decline. Or, like he did when the Warriors turned him down, he'll claim they hadn't been invited in the first place."
The White House traditionally invites American teams or players who have won championships. Under Mr. Trump, several teams have declined, most notably, the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia Eagles.
Rapinoe, who is openly gay, has been critical of the current administration. In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, she said she considers herself to be "a walking protest when it comes to the Trump administration" because of "everything I stand for."
She was one of the early supporters of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he began protesting during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Rapinoe kept kneeling at National Women's Soccer League and women's national team games until the U.S. Soccer Federation adopted a policy that would require players to "stand and honor" the flag.
Now, Rapinoe refuses to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" or put her hand over her heart during it. So far, in the FIFA Women's World Cup, she hasn't. She's also one offor equal pay, alleging gender discrimination.
USA is coming off a 2-1 victory over Spain in the first game of the knockout stage. They play France in Paris on Friday in the quarterfinals.