By Simon Evans
LYON, France (Reuters) – United States forward Alex Morgan said that any decision about whether to accept an invitation to visit President Donald Trump at the White House would only come after Sunday’s World Cup final and would likely be a collective team choice.
U.S. winger Megan Rapinoe’s forceful comments that she would not attend any White House celebration prompted Trump to respond in a series of tweets and caused plenty of controversy.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s final against the Netherlands, Morgan said such talk had been premature but suggested such a visit was unlikely.
“I think we will make that decision after we finish Sunday’s game. I think there has been a lot of talk prematurely about the White House and about Trump but first we have to do business and then I think you guys know the answer to the question anyways,” she said.
An invitation from the president to celebrate at the White House is regularly offered to successful American sports teams and individuals, such as Olympic gold medalists.
Asked if she could imagine a situation where some players attended while others stayed away, Morgan said that was unlikely.
“I can’t say 100 percent but this team is very close and we have always made decisions together so I can’t really see us deciding to part in that way but at the same time if someone feels strongly then who are we to tell them to do or not do something,” she said.
Morgan was in the spotlight herself after scoring the winning goal in the 2-1 semi-final win over England on Tuesday and celebrating with a “sipping tea” gesture.
The 30-year-old said she was surprised at some of the criticism of the celebration suggesting men did not receive such scrutiny for the way they react to scoring.
“I feel that there is some sort of double standard for females in sports to feel like we have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much, and have to do something but it always has to be in a limited fashion,” she said.
“You see men celebrating all around the world in big tournaments, grabbing their sacks or whatever it is, and when I look at sipping a cup of tea, I’m a little taken aback. You have to laugh about it, to see all of the criticism,” she said.
Morgan said she was unhappy with the way English forward Lianne Sanderson, who was working as a television pundit, reacted by calling the gesture “disrespectful” to the England players.
Sanderson played with Morgan together at Orlando Pride in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League).
“I’m a little disappointed in that and obviously we were team mates at Orlando Pride so I have the utmost respect for Lianne and all of my team mates that I’ve ever played with. So, it’s a little disappointing to see that,” she said.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Alison Williams)