The United States women’s national team is on a celebratory whip for the ages, from partying in the locker room after winning back-to-back World Cup titles to the current swing through media appearances back home.
Arguably no one has more to comment on than superstar Megan Rapinoe, who not only won the World Cup golden treble but struck a harsh note with President Donald Trump and didn’t step back from it. In fact, during an appearance with Alex Morgan at ESPN on Tuesday, she said it was a positive thing and put the moment into perspective.
“I think we know who won that,” Morgan said.
“Yeah. I held up my end of the bargain on that one,” added Rapinoe.
Rapinoe: USWNT ‘so much more’ than players
Rapinoe stays silent during the singing of the national anthem to protest injustice and inequality, something she’s done since 2016 and has spoken about in detail. Trump has said he doesn’t believe it’s appropriate.
She is, in her words, “a walking protest” and is vocal for causes she believes in. It’s in part why she has said she won’t go to the celebration at the White House. Then months-old footage was released prior to the match against France that prompted a rant by Trump on Twitter.
“I’m not going to the f---ing White House,” Rapinoe said. “... We’re not going to be invited. I doubt it.”
Trump tweeted she should “WIN before she TALKS!” and said he would invite the team to the White House, win or lose. (There is no date set yet for a visit, but he did offer congratulations on Twitter.)
Rapinoe’s explanation on ESPN put the focus on what this team, through the generations from the ‘99ers to the ’19ers, means to the country. And it has long meant more than wins on a pitch, as Rapinoe eloquently explains.
“Honesty, 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 positive in a way. Obviously, I think the tweets were negative in tone as he usually does, but I think we just even more so realized in that moment we’re so much more than what we are on the field. And 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 were gonna 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 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 represent America in a way that no team really does. We’re very lucky to play all types of games all year long and I think we do an incredible of representing every American.”
The brewing feud drew battle lines between those in support of the president and those who agreed with Rapinoe. Rapinoe never once took back her original comments (she did apologize for swearing) and instead defended her activism by describing herself as “deeply” and “extremely American.”
USWNT ‘wants to change the world’
In the segment, Rapinoe and Morgan were asked about their legacy. The 2019 team is already considered the greatest women’s soccer team of all time; Rapinoe and Morgan reiterated previous comments that their work goes beyond back-to-back victories on the World Cup stage.
“We want to change the world. We want to change the way that people look at us, that people look at young girls, that people look at young boys. We want to change the game forever.”
The USWNT will celebrate with a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in New York City on Wednesday morning. That evening they’ll be in Los Angeles for the ESPYs.
The lawsuit the team filed against U.S. Soccer months prior to the tournament will be the next focus. Morgan said they’re “optimistic” about having a collaborative approach with the federation.
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