Donald Trump warns Megan Rapinoe not to 'disrespect' US flag at World Cup

  • Player says she will not visit White House if US win World Cup
  • Other American teams and players have refused trip in past
  • Ali Krieger throws support behind Rapinoe with pointed tweet

On Monday, Megan Rapinoe scored two goals to send the US through to the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup. On Wednesday, the President of the United States warned her not to “disrespect” her country.

Rapinoe, who has won the World Cup and Olympics with the USWNT, is outspoken on social issues and was the first white professional athlete to kneel for the national anthem in protest of social injustice in the United States, before US Soccer passed a rule requiring team members to stand for the anthem. In a video that has circulated on social media since Tuesday – but appears to have been filmed before the World Cup started – she said that she would not visit the White House if the team wins the tournament.

On Wednesday, Trump responded to Rapinoe’s comments, although he addressed Twitter user @meganrapino rather than Rapinoe’s official account @mPinoe before correcting it about an hour later.

“Women’s soccer player, @meganrapino, just stated that she is “not going to the White House if we win.” Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level... our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. 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........invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. 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!”

If the US do refuse a visit to the White House, they would be following in the footsteps of the Golden State Warriors, who did not meet with the President after winning the NBA championship, and the Philadelphia Eagles, who skipped the trip after winning Super Bowl LII. Other US championship teams have visited Trump although some players on nearly every one of those teams have chosen to stay away. Rapinoe’s teammates Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan have also said that they will not attend the White House should the team win the World Cup. The US met with Barack Obama after they won the World Cup in 2015.

Megan Rapinoe and Barack Obama
Megan Rapinoe, right, visited the White House with the US women’s national team after their 2015 World Cup victory. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Veteran fullback Ali Krieger, who is engaged to teammate Ashlyn Harris, voiced her support for Rapinoe on Wednesday, saying that she would also decline a White House visit and doesn’t “support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable”.

Trump’s remarks came one day after he said he did not think it was appropriate for Rapinoe, a co-captain of the US team, to protest during the anthem during an interview with The Hill. “No, I don’t think so,” Trump said when asked about Rapinoe’s actions.

The 33-year-old Rapinoe has been outspoken about LGBTQ rights as well as racial and gender equality. She is also one of the most prominent voices in the US team’s battle with their federation over equal pay.

“The more I’ve been able to learn about gay rights and equal pay and gender equity and racial inequality, the more that it all intersects,” Rapinoe told the Guardian in 2017. “You can’t really pick it apart. It’s all intertwined. God forbid you be a gay woman and a person of color in this country, because you’d be really fucked.

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“As I got more into gay rights, I got more into equal pay and you just see that it’s all connected. You can’t really speak out on one thing and not another without it not being the full picture. We need to talk about a larger conversation in this country about equality in general and respect – especially with the recent election and subsequent narrative that’s coming from the White House right now.”

The US play hosts France on Friday for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.