U.S. Soccer Condemns Megan Rapinoe For Kneeling During Anthem

(Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

The national anthem protest started by Colin Kaepernick reached new heights on Thursday night. Megan Rapinoe, an openly gay member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, knelt during the anthem ahead of the team’s friendly with Thailand. It is the first time in the ongoing protest that an athlete has refused to stand for the anthem while actually representing their national team. Previously, Rapinoe knelt during the anthem while playing for the Seattle Reign, a club team in the National Women’s Soccer League.

During the game, the United States Soccer Association released a statement that essentially scolds Rapinoe for her behavior.

Representing your country is a privilege and honor for any player or coach that is associated with U.S. Soccer’s National Teams. Therefore, our national anthem has particular significance for U.S. Soccer. In front of national and often global audiences, the playing of our national anthem is an opportunity for our Men’s and Women’s National Team players and coaches to reflect upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country. As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the National Anthem is played.

Most NFL teams with players who made some sort of gesture during the anthem have released statements saying they respect the rights of those individuals who choose to make a statement. U.S. Soccer has done quite the opposite, saying that they “expect” players to stand and reflect on their liberties. Liberties that apparently no longer include freedom of speech or expression.

If U.S. Soccer, as an organization, truly feels this way, they should refuse to call up Rapinoe for national duty. However, she is one of their best players and such a move would likely be widely criticized by both fans and social commentators.

Rapinoe claims she joined Kaepernick’s protest because as a gay woman in America, she also knows what it’s like to have her country consider her a second class citizen.

“Quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling,” she said following the first time she did not stand for the anthem, according to ESPNw.

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