U.S. women's national team star Megan Rapinoe told Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas that she will not visit the White House if the team defends their World Cup title this summer in France.
Since his election, Rapinoe has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and many policies enacted by his administration.
From Jenny Vrentas's story:
Rapinoe has already decided how she would respond to an invitation to visit the White House if the U.S. successfully defends its World Cup title: “Absolutely not.” She would be open to going to Washington and meeting with members of government, but not President Trump.
“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,” Rapinoe says. “I have no interest in extending our platform to him.”
Rapinoe's USWNT teammate Alex Morgan echoed the same sentiment in a recent interview with TIME Magazine, saying she has no plans to accept an invitation to the White House if the team wins the World Cup again. Morgan noted her frustration with the administration's policy of family separation, among other factors.
“I don’t stand for a lot of things the current office stands for,” Morgan said.
She continued: “We don’t have to be put in this little box. There’s the narrative that’s been said hundreds of times about any sort of athlete who’s spoken out politically. ‘Stick to sports.’ We’re much more than that, O.K.?”
Neither would be the first athletes to decline an invitation for political reasons or otherwise. President Trump canceled a visit from the Philadelphia Eagles to commemorate their 2018 Super Bowl win after most of the players said they would not attend. The Golden State Warriors did not receive an invitation to celebrate their 2018 championship after declining the invitation following their 2017 title. The WNBA 2018 champion Seattle Storm echoed a similar sentiment and said that although Trump had not tried to schedule a celebratory ceremony, they would not have attended if he did. Both the 2018 and 2019 NCAA basketball champions Villanova and Virginia also said they would have declined if invited.
Rapinoe, 33, has been a vocal political activist over the years. She was one of the first players–and the first white or female athlete–to join former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. Rapinoe continued to do so for three games and explained her reasoning in a post on The Players Tribune, titled "Why I Am Kneeling." until U.S. Soccer enacted a new policy mandating that players "stand respectfully" during the anthem in March 2017.
The star midfielder has also been an advocate for LGBTQ rights since she came out publicly in 2012. She continues to advocate for equal pay for women, most recently calling out her sport's leadership for not doing enough to address equality and gender parity issues in soccer. Rapinoe, one of the USWNT's co-captains, acknowledged that the sport has made "strides" toward equality but said "The incremental change that we've seen is just not enough," per CNN.