Megan Rapinoe becomes first Team USA athlete to kneel during anthem
Megan Rapinoe took a stand while taking a knee in early September, dropping down during the national anthem prior to a match between the Seattle Reign FC and Chicago Red Stars.
Asked about her protest afterwards, Rapinoe said she was “disgusted” with the way San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick had been treated and vowed to continue kneeling during the national anthem. Rapinoe also cited injustices around the country, not necessarily just towards people of color, as the reason for her protest.
In a later match, the Washington Spirit played the national anthem prior to players hitting the pitch in an effort to keep Rapinoe from “hijacking” the anthem. As expected, she was not pleased with their decision.
“It’s f—ing unbelievable. Saddened by it,” Rapinoe said via the Washington Post’s Steven Goff.
On Thursday, prior to the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s international friendly against Thailand, Rapinoe became the very first athlete to protest the national anthem while wearing the the U.S. colors and name on her jersey.
USWNT member Megan Rapinoe continues her protest during the national anthem before the U.S faces Thailand. pic.twitter.com/oekj5QDlBH
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 16, 2016
Prior to the match, Team USA coach Jill Ellis said she supported Rapinoe’s right to protest, but hoped the players would stay united as a team representing their country.
“I totally understand where Megan is in terms of her willingness to talk about hard social issues. I respect that and I support that,” Ellis said via the New York Daily News. “In this environment on a national team, I don’t disassociate playing for your country. I think that’s a part of the national symbol, so in terms of standing for a national anthem, I think that’s an expectation of a national team player.
“When it comes to utilizing a team platform for an individual agenda, I think I will also put team first, and would want the individuals to put team first.”
Ultimately, Rapinoe went with what Ellis termed her “individual agenda” over team and country unity.