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No, Donald Trump: Megan Rapinoe has every right to decline your invitation

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Christobel Hastings
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Thanks to star midfielder Megan Rapinoe, the US women’s soccer team just cruised through to the World Cup knockouts. Still, that didn’t stop Donald Trump from weighing in on her politics.

She’s co-captain of the U.S women’s soccer team, a star midfielder, and the hero of the USWNT right now after scoring two penalties after in the Women’s World Cup knockout match against Spain. By all accounts, Megan Rapinoe is on the top of the world.

What Megan Rapinoe doesn’t need right now, is President Donald Trump weighing in on her moment in the spotlight.

Nevertheless, this afternoon, he attacked the athlete for stating that she will not attend the White House if the national team wins the World Cup, warning her to “never disrespect” her country. 

When asked by a reporter from soccer magazine Eight by Eight if she was looking forward to visiting the White House if the USWNT won the Women’s World Cup, Rapinoe replied: “Psssh, I’m not going to the f*****g White House. No. I’m not going to the White House.”

Somewhat predictably, Trump then took to Twitter to hit back at Rapinoe. 

“Women’s soccer player, @meganrapino, just stated that she is “not going to the F…ing 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… ….in 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!”

It’s not the only time Trump has attached Rapinoe. In an interview with The Hill earlier this week, the POTUS decided to comment on Rapinoe’s silence during the national anthem, saying he does not think it’s appropriate for a co-captain of the US women’s soccer team to protest on the pitch. 

Rapinoe, who has played a crucial role in the USWNT’s winning streak in the Women’s World Cup, started kneeling during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” after being inspired by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protests against police brutality. But after the US Soccer Federation introduced a policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem, Rapinoe adopted a stance of silence to continue her protest against the Trump administration.

 The veteran soccer star, who is now competing in her third World Cup, is a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and racial and gender equality, has described herself as a “walking protest” to the POTUS’ policies in the past.

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“I feel like it’s kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it,” she told Yahoo Sports in an interview last month. “So it’s kind of a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the [Trump] administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him.”

Rapinoe has also made it clear in the past that she will decline an invitation to visit the White House if the US women’s soccer team win the World Cup. “I am not going to fake it, hobnob with the president, who is clearly against so many of the things that I am [for] and so many of the things that I actually am,” she told Sports Illustrated. “I have no interest in extending our platform to him.”

Whilst it’s hardly surprising that Trump isn’t a fan of Rapinoe’s rebellious behaviour, the POTUS could do with taking a long hard look at his own policies to find evidence of things that are “inappropriate”, before coming for the player who has pulled the USWNT into the World Cup quarterfinals.

Policies like the sustained rollback of women’s reproductive rights. Like the suffering of migrant children in detention centres on the Southern border. Like stalling on the climate crisis, risking another a nuclear arms race, and lest we forget, the continued allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment that have become a hallmark of his presidency.

Donald Trump is in no position to be criticising Rapinoe for standing up for marginalised communities that have been persistently attacked by the US administration. Nor should he be making claims that “economics” should be considered in the issue of equal pay, even when reports that show the US women’s soccer team games actually generate more revenue in comparison to the male team’s games.

“I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics,” Trump told The Hill. “I mean who draws more, where is the money coming in. I know that when you have the great stars like Ronaldo and some of these stars … that get paid a lot of money, but they draw hundreds of thousands of people.”

At the same time, Rapinoe is under no obligation whatsoever to place her hand over her heart and reverently sing the national anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner” does not a champion make. Talent, on the other hand, really talks.

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.

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