Before the U.S. Women’s National Team trounced Thailand 13-0 in the opening round of the World Cup on Tuesday, Megan Rapinoe used the opportunity to make a political statement.
The star soccer player didn’t put her hand over her heart or sing the national anthem. As her teammates sang, Rapinoe remained silent, as Fox News reported.
Protesting the anthem is something she had promised she would do heading into the World Cup.
In May, Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports she would be protesting the anthem as an “F you” to President Donald Trump and his administration.
She said when it comes to the Trump administration, she is a “walking protest.”
“I feel like it’s kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it,” she told Yahoo Sports. “Because I’m as talented as I am, I get to be here, you don’t get to tell me if I can be here or not.
“So it’s kind of a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the [Trump] administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him. Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really scary. Ahh, disturbing.”
Many observers didn’t appreciate her protest Tuesday.
Megan Rapinoe doesn’t belong wearing red, white, and blue. Don’t play for the USA if you can’t respect it, don’t represent the USA if you hate it.#RespectUSA
— Denny Boysen ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@deboysen46) June 12, 2019
— Swami (@SwamiG8R) June 11, 2019
Megan Rapinoe needs to be booted for her lack of patriotism. Why play for a country you hate, smh. #USWNT
— Big Dawg?? (@Moutdaman1) June 11, 2019
Entire @USWNT except our captain Rapinoe singing along with the national anthem. Such a joke she is a captain. Why not replace her with someone who is proud of the country they represent? #WorldCup2019
— Kurt (@cowboyattaboy) June 11, 2019
US soccer star Megan Rapinoe refuses to sing the national anthem
Shameful she is no longer my favor player. The pride of being American is above everything https://t.co/Vn8EdKJ3LO
— Jose Arley (@josearley62) June 12, 2019
While Megan Rapinoe was refusing to sing our national anthem on Tuesday, there were 450 immigrants from 83 countries proud to be singing it at a Naturalization Ceremony outside DC. (Many of whom are probably better soccer players). #USWNT @mPinoe pic.twitter.com/jlbspTZqW2
— Jeff Templeton (@JeffTempleton) June 12, 2019
Unbelievable .@mPinoe stuck to her word by refusing to sing the national anthem before the USA’s World Cup opener against Thailand. Kick this women off the team for not respecting our flag and anthem.
— frank (@ohioman123) June 12, 2019
Her decision to protest during the national anthem was inspired by free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched a wave of protests when he refused to stand for the anthem in 2016 as a member of the San Franciso 49ers.
Rapinoe, a lesbian who is in a relationship with WNBA star Sue Bird, followed his lead in taking a knee during the anthem, saying at the time, “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.”
— Kyle Robertson (@KRobPhoto) September 16, 2016
In response, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced that players were expected to “stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played.”
Rapinoe complained about that decision.
“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly,” she told Yahoo Sports. “I think the NFL does it. I felt like the statement from U.S. Soccer, and then the rule they made without ever talking to me, that was the same as what the NFL was doing — just to not have the conversation, to try to just stop me from doing what I’m doing instead of at least having a conversation, and trying to figure out a [solution] that makes sense for everyone.”
Ultimately, Rapinoe is supposed to be representing the United States at the World Cup — not protesting it.
While she is entitled to have her own political beliefs, refusing to sing the national anthem because she dislikes the current administration is a very bad look, especially in another country.
Perhaps instead of being angry with her country, Rapinoe should feel grateful for the opportunity to represent it on the soccer pitch.
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