Following the World Cup triumph by the U.S. women’s national team, President Trump appeared to backtrack on a promise he made last month to invite the squad to the White House regardless of Sunday’s outcome.
“We haven’t really thought about it,” Trump said, according to Voice of America, after the 2-0 U.S. win over the Netherlands in the final. “We’ll look at that.”
In June, Trump had tweeted: “We haven’t yet invited Megan [Rapinoe] or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose.”
Trump made that comment while castigating Rapinoe, a team co-captain who went on to be named the most valuable player of the World Cup. “I’m not going to the f------ White House," Rapinoe had said, in comments that went viral.
Presidents have long made a tradition of inviting teams to the White House after championship wins, but those occasions have come under scrutiny during the Trump presidency. Numerous athletes have said they would not go while he is in office. Trump went so far as to disinvite the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, while the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox have seen several players sit out the trip.
U.S. Coach Jill Ellis was asked if she would go to the White House after Sunday’s win.
“I don’t know," she said. "I haven’t been invited, so I can’t really say.”
Told that an invitation was very likely to be forthcoming, Ellis said, “Well, I wouldn’t bet on that.”
In remarks recorded in May and posted last month that included the viral comment, Rapinoe had said she doubted the team would be invited.
“Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Trump tweeted at the time. Appearing to offer another criticism of Rapinoe’s decision to stand silently in protest during the national anthem, he added, “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.”
On Twitter, U.S. player Ali Krieger fired back at Trump and defended her teammate.
“In regards to the ‘President’s’ tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by [Rapinoe] & will sit this one out as well," she wrote. "I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable.”
In an interview Thursday with CNN, Krieger said she would “absolutely not” go to the White House if the U.S. women were invited.
“I refuse to respect a man that warrants no respect,” Krieger said. “… I refuse to just sit back and watch an abuser, a bully, talk like that to my friend. I support her as a friend, and I wanted to make sure that I said something that meant something to me, and was important to me.”
Rapinoe told reporters last week that she stood by her comments about the White House visit. “With the exception of the expletive,” she added. “My mom will be very upset about that.”
Rapinoe said that she hadn’t spoken to all of her teammates about a possible White House visit but that she would “suspect not many, if any, of the other players” would be inclined to go.
“Great and exciting play,” he wrote. “America is proud of you all!”