Trump Criticizes Megan Rapinoe Over Refusal to Visit White House

PARIS — Megan Rapinoe was nonetheless sweating by means of her uniform on Monday night time, moments after scoring two objectives for the United States girls’s soccer staff, when she was requested what the ambiance across the Americans’ subsequent World Cup match, an elimination sport in opposition to France on Friday in Paris, may be like.

“Hopefully a complete spectacle, just an absolute media circus,” she stated, with the mix of sarcasm and sincerity that has made her one of the vital common girls’s soccer gamers on this planet. “I hope it’s huge and crazy.”

Her want has begun to come true — although maybe not in the way in which she imagined.

On Wednesday morning, President Trump criticized Ms. Rapinoe with a three-tweet blast in response to a current interview wherein Ms. Rapinoe said, with an obscenity, that she wouldn’t go to the White House if the United States have been to win the World Cup.

Mr. Trump, whose workplace and Twitter account grant him a singular capacity to encourage each spectacles and media circuses, wrote that Ms. 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,” the president continued, “however Megan ought to WIN first earlier than she TALKS! Finish the job!’’

Visiting the White House was as soon as a reasonably routine exercise for American sports activities groups that gained main championships. But with Mr. Trump within the White House, such visits have change into imbued with political that means, inspiring fraught dialog every time a staff wins a trophy.

Ms. Rapinoe, 33, greater than athletes, has welcomed such conversations, and there could also be no American soccer participant, male or feminine, higher outfitted to take care of being pulled into the political highlight.

A winger with a flashy, artistic streak, she is likely one of the most interesting soccer gamers the United States has ever produced. Easy to spot together with her swooping wave of lavender-dyed hair, she scored each objectives within the United States’ 2-1 win over Spain on Monday, rising her profession tally with the staff to 47 in 156 video games.

She is one in every of a handful of American gamers with a significant off-the-field profile, too. Away from the sphere, Ms. Rapinoe, who’s homosexual, has been an outspoken supporter of L.G.B.T.Q. rights and, extra lately, a blunt critic of the president. In 2016, she grew to become one of many few white athletes to join Colin Kaepernick and others when they led an ongoing protest against racism and police violence by kneeling during the national anthem at sporting events.

In 2015, Ms. Rapinoe and the United States team won the World Cup in Canada, and the entire team visited the White House for a ceremony with President Barack Obama.

On Wednesday, in his tweet stream, Mr. Trump said that he would invite the team to the White House, “win or lose.” U.S. Soccer said it would have no comment on Ms. Rapinoe’s remarks.

A twin and one of six siblings, she grew up in Redding, Calif., about 200 miles north of San Francisco, and she still speaks with a casual Californian lilt. She came out to her family and close friends in her first year at the University of Portland. She came out publicly a year after the 2011 World Cup, where she had cemented her status as one of the most dynamic players in the country. She had the 35-yard assist on Abby Wambach’s game-tying goal in the waning moments of a quarterfinal against Brazil, one of the biggest goals in U.S. soccer history.

She also became one of the most popular players — among fans around the world and her own teammates — thanks in part to her irreverent sense of humor and a porous filter for her innermost thoughts.

Ms. Rapinoe’s awakening to politics came gradually, later in her career.

On Sept. 4, 2016, while playing for the Seattle Reign in a National Women’s Soccer League game in Chicago, she dropped down to one knee during the playing of the national anthem, becoming the first white athlete and first woman to take part in the protest movement started by Mr. Kaepernick.

The decision launched her into a rapidly boiling national conversation over athletes and activism, earning her months of vitriol from critics along with outpourings of support.

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” Rapinoe said after that game. “It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this.”

Mr. Trump also went on a tangent about the N.B.A., noting it was the only league whose teams had not accepted the invitations to the White House after a championship. The last N.B.A. team to make such a visit was the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, when Mr. Obama’s second term was winding down.

Yahoo Sports quoted Ms. Rapinoe last month calling Mr. Trump “sexist,” “misogynistic,” “small-minded,” “racist” and “not a good person.” But those comments did not draw his public ire.

Ms. Rapinoe was not made available for interviews on Wednesday and did not respond to Mr. Trump on social media.

Andrew Das contributed reporting from Paris, and Victor Mather contributed from New York.

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