President Trump is tangled in a feud with U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe, following a recent interview in which she said she will not go to the White House if her team wins the World Cup.
The president fired off a trio of tweets on Wednesday, saying, “I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” 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.”
Then he invited the women’s team to the White House, win or lose.
The skirmish began when soccer magazine Eight by Eight tweeted a video clip from a recent interview in which Rapinoe was asked whether she would be “excited” go to the White House if the team were to win this summer.
“I’m not going to the f**cking White House,” she said. “No, I’m not going to the White House. We’re not going to be invited.”
— Eight by Eight (@8by8mag) June 25, 2019
When the president caught wind of it, he took to Twitter.
He had criticized Rapinoe earlier in the week as well, telling The Hill that he thinks it’s inappropriate for her to protest during the national anthem. At the World Cup this year, The Hill reports, she has abstained from singing along with the national anthem during pregame ceremonies.
Rapinoe, who is gay, has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights, The New York Times reports. In 2016, she joined Colin Kaepernick in a protest against racism and police violence by kneeling during the national anthem. She has called herself a “walking protest.”
In the interview with The Hill, the president declined to weigh in on whether the women’s soccer team should receive the same pay as the men’s team. “I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics,” he said. “I mean who draws more, where is the money coming in.” He added, “But I haven’t taken a position on that at all. I’d have to look at it.”
The U.S. women’s soccer team roundly outperforms the men’s team — the men failed to qualify for the last World Cup while the women won it — but the men make much more money. On March 8, International Women’s Day, the women took action, filing a federal gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, calling for equal pay.
The American women’s team also scores major viewers. In 2015, around 25 million people watched the U.S. women win the World cup, beating Japan in the final — a record U.S. audience for any soccer game — according to Time magazine.
Rapinoe is not the only U.S. player to boycott the White House. Alex Morgan told Time recently that she would not go. On Wednesday, after the Trump tweet fest, another American player, Ali Krieger, tweeted that she would decline to visit the White House as well.