By Tara Subramaniam, CNN
Sydney (CNN) — Hours after the US women’s national team crashed out of the World Cup, former US President Donald Trump seized the opportunity to blame the loss on star player Megan Rapinoe and the country’s “woke” path under President Joe Biden.
On his social media platform, “Truth Social,” Trump wrote: “The ‘shocking and totally unexpected’ loss by the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team to Sweden is fully emblematic of what is happening to the our once great Nation under Crooked Joe Biden. Many of our players were openly hostile to America – No other country behaved in such a manner, or even close. WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!! MAGA.”
Other conservatives piled on following the team’s loss, suggesting the result was due to their values and perceived criticism of the US.
“I’m thrilled they lost,” said former Fox News host Megyn Kelly. “You don’t support America, I don’t support you.”
While Kelly did not specify how the US women’s soccer team does not support America, it’s possible she was referring to comments US forward Megan Rapinoe made following the team’s World Cup win in 2019. At the time, Rapinoe told CNN, “Maybe America is great for a few people right now, but it’s not great for enough Americans in this world,” a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) slogan.
Though Kelly’s statements were broad, Trump’s post specifically called out Rapinoe for missing a penalty in Sunday’s game. While the soccer star was not the only US player to do so, she has a contentious history with the former president.
Ahead of the last Women’s World Cup in 2019, Rapinoe famously said she would not go “to the f***ing White House” if the team won the tournament, prompting ire from the then-President.
In a series of tweets that were heavy on exclamation marks, Trump told Rapinoe – one of the most successful US footballers in history – that she should “WIN first before she talks!” and should not disrespect her country or its flag.
After Trump’s response, Rapinoe said she stood by her comments, criticizing the Trump administration as one that “doesn’t fight for the same things that we fight for.”
Rapinoe has described herself as a “walking protest,” and many of her personal campaigns likely fall under the banner of what Trump considers “woke.” She is well-known for her work on social issues, ranging from LGBTQ+ rights to racial inequality to gender and pay equity.
Rapinoe was one of the first white professional athletes to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against police brutality and the first to do so on an international stage. The player and her partner, WNBA star Sue Bird, were also the first openly gay couple to appear on the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue.
In 2022, Biden awarded Rapinoe the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. In a speech introducing the star soccer player, the president praised Rapinoe’s role in securing equal pay for the US women’s soccer team and her advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights.
“For nearly 40 years, the US Women’s National Soccer Team has epitomized what it means to be a champion. From lifting trophies, to fighting for gender equity, these women have been a source of inspiration to Americans of all ages – our family included,” President Biden said.
Biden and his wife have also repeatedly championed this Women’s World Cup team and were among several big names who helped announce the lineup back in June.
As the World Cup got underway, the Bidens placed a billboard on the White House North Lawn cheering on the team. Following the team’s loss on Sunday, first lady Jill Biden said the squad was an inspiration to “women and girls everywhere” – a sharp contrast to Trump’s reaction.
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