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U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe revealed in an interview Monday she will “probably never sing the national anthem again” weeks before the team is set to defend their World Cup title in France.
Rapinoe, who was the first white athlete to kneel during the national anthem before a sporting event following former NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s decision in 2016, revealed in a lengthy interview with Yahoo Sports the backlash she received over her choice to take a knee.
Rapinoe said she wasn’t satisfied with the conversation that stemmed from her decision to knee during the anthem. She expressed her displeasure with U.S. soccer’s statement about the kneeling controversy and the federation’s decision to adopt a rule requiring players to “stand and honor the flag.”
“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly. I think the NFL does it,” she told Yahoo Sports. “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.”
FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 file photo, United States’ Megan Rapinoe, right, kneels next to teammates Ali Krieger (11) and Crystal Dunn (16) as the U.S. national anthem is played before an exhibition soccer match against Netherlands in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
(The Associated Press)
While she will still represent the U.S. in their effort to win another World Cup, Rapinoe called herself a “walking protest” she believes the Trump administration doesn’t “value all American equally.”
“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,” Rapinoe told the website. “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 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.”
Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before her match against the Chicago Red Stars in 2016. She called her act a “little nod” to Kaepernick and “everything that he’s stranding for right now.”
She recalled to Yahoo Sports that the whole controversy “wasn’t super easy for me.”
“I think that was a really good lesson for me: This is what it’s going to take for things to change, norms to change, conventions to change, to try to break down white supremacy and break down racial bias,” she said. “It’s going to take it being hard. For everyone. … That really resonated with me.”
Rapinoe will lead the U.S. in its first group-stage match against Thailand on June 11. The U.S. will then play Chile on June 16 and Sweden on June 20.
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