Nothing But Respect For My President, Megan Rapinoe

She has pledged not to go to the White House, whether or not the U.S. Women's National Team is invited

The U.S. Women National Soccer Team is doing so well, they just might make it to the 2019 World Cup finals — but if they do, co-captain Megan Rapinoe says they’re not going to be celebrating at the “fucking White House.”

In a video published on June 25, sports website Eight by Eight asked Rapinoe, a midfielder who is just as cool on the field as she is off, if she’s excited to go to the White House if they end up winning. (It’s tradition for championship winning sports teams to visit.) The video complements an interview she gave the magazine for its 15th issue, which debuted in May; Rapinoe’s interview published on June 11.

“I’m not going to the fucking White House,” she said. “No. I’m not going to the White House. We’re not going to be invited.”

And President Donald Trump handled the news… exactly how you might expect him to.

He tweeted out an angry diatribe, tagged the wrong Megan, misspelled her name, and somehow did the mental gymnastics it takes to connect this to the NBA not calling the majority white men who oversee each team “owners” (the league recently started calling them “governors”), criminal justice reform, and “Black unemployment” before telling Rapinoe to “be proud of the Flag [sic] that you wear.” (The women’s team jersey is reminiscent of the stars and stripes but does not feature a flag, as that would break the flag code, which mandates that “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.”) Then, he deleted the tweets and re-sent them with Rapinoe’s correct handle tagged.

“Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team,” Trump tweeted. (In March, the women of the U.S. Women’s National Team sued the U.S. soccer federation on the grounds of pay inequality and gender discrimination; they generate more revenue and win more games than the men’s team but earn significantly less.)

He had previously claimed to the Hill that he didn’t believe it was appropriate for her to refuse to sing the anthem, a song with a deep-seated history of racism.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Rapinoe, who visited then-President Barack Obama’s White House when the team won the World Cup in 2015, isn’t particularly interested in visiting the White House. In 2012 she called herself a “walking protest with it comes to the Trump administration” because of “everything I stand for.” And she’s been protesting during the national anthem for three years, in solidarity with the movement Colin Kaepernick started, making her the first non-Black professional athlete to show her allyship at the field line. In 2016, she kneeled during the national anthem when she was playing for the Seattle Reign to show solidarity with the then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who kneeled during the national anthem during his NFL games to protest police brutality.

Athletes refusing to go to the Trump administration’s White House after they win championships isn’t exactly new. According to Bleacher Report, Danny Green of the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors won’t likely go the White House; the NBA’s Golden State Warriors didn’t meet with the President; and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles refused a White House trip as well. The New England Patriots’s visit to the White House has been delayed; several members of the Boston Red Sox opted out of their team’s visit on May 9.

And Rapinoe? Even if her team doesn’t win, she says she has no plans to stop protesting. She told Yahoo in a story published in early May that the President is “sexist,” “misogynistic,” “small-minded,” “racist,” and “not a good person.”

“I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart,” she told Yahoo. “I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.”