United States star Megan Rapinoe said she "held up [her] end of the bargain" after President Donald Trump called her out during the tournament for saying she should win before she speaks out against going to the White House.
Rapinoe told Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas and said she wouldn't visit the White House if the USWNT won the World Cup. Her comments later went viral when a video was released ahead of the team's crucial quarterfinal against France and she said she was "not going to the f---ing White House."
Trump responded by calling out Rapinoe in a Twitter thread and invited the team to the White House win or lose. He also said, “I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Rapinoe, who scored on a penalty kick in the final and was crucial to the team throughout the tournament, went on to win the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in addition to the team trophy.
The USWNT won its second consecutive Women's World Cup title and is currently on a victory press tour. Rapinoe addressed Trump's comments in an appearance on ESPN. She previously avoided elaborating during the tournament.
When asked how she put the political backdrop into perspective, Rapinoe said, "Honestly, I see it as a positive thing. I think when it was happening, we did keep a really tight bubble, and the whole group was so supportive of me. But it did feel like positive in a way. Obviously, I think the tweets were negative in tone as he usually does, but I think that we just even more so realized in that moment, we're so much more than what we are on the field. I think this team really understands and is so prideful that we do carry with us other people when we step out on the pitch. It's the game of course and we want to win. But knowing the impact that we have already had and knowing the impact that we are going to have when we came home, the motivation of just that alone is incredible. I really feel like we do this for our group, for ourselves, for our team, for our staff, for our friends and family and for everyone. I think that we always want to try to bring more people into the conversation. We want to have the conversation, we want to open it up to everyone. I think obviously we are very lucky to wear the shirt and to represent America in a way that no team really does. We're very lucky we play all kinds of games all year long, and I think that we do an incredible job of representing every American."
Trump congratulated the team on the win for its "great and exciting play."