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28.06.2019 Sports News

France faces US team embroiled in row with US president

By RFI
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
JUN 28, 2019 SPORTS NEWS

France and the United States battle it out later today at the Parc des Princes in Paris for a place in the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup.

The French are not favorites against US teammates Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan even if France inflicted the only defeat suffered by the Americans in their last 20 matches.

The Blues have never played in the final, whether at the World Cup, the European Championship or the Olympic Games.

The Americans, crowned in 1991, 1999 and 2015, are in search of a fourth world title.

In the semi-finals, the winning team will face England, who easily beat Norway (3-0) on Thursday night in Le Havre.

Rapinoe Vs. Trump
Meanwhile, the US teams says that an online squabble between U.S. women's national team co-captain Megan Rapinoe and President Donald Trump will not distract the team from its preparation for Friday's match.

Speaking Thursday in Paris, Ellis said her team is able to keep the focus on the highly anticipated matchup.

“We all support Megan,” Ellis said. “She knows that. We know we have each other's backs in there.

“I think for our players, there is only one purpose, one mission that we're here. Comments, media, whatever, it's always been something that I think we can block out pretty easily.”

The conflict between Rapinoe and Trump began earlier this week, when Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine, released a video of an interview it previously conducted with the player. When asked whether she would go to the White House after the World Cup, Rapinoe, 33, responded: “I'm not going to the (expletive) White House,” she said, adding it was a moot point. “We're not going to be invited.”

Trump responded on Twitter, chastising Rapinoe for her language, telling her she shouldn't decline an invitation before it was extended, and then inviting the team to Washington, D.C.

“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women's Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven't yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose,” he wrote, spread over a pair of tweets. “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”

Rapinoe declined to take questions on Thursday, but released a statement.

“I stand by the comments that I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive,” Rapinoe said. “My mom will be very upset about that. But I think, obviously, answering with a lot of passion considering how much time and effort and pride we take in the platform that we have and using it for good and for leaving the game in a better place and hopefully the world in a better place, I don't think that I would want to go.”

Trump has criticized Rapinoe for kneeling during the national anthem before two games in 2016 to show support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did so to raise awareness about police brutality and racial injustice.

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