U.S. Women’s National Soccer team player Megan Rapinoe refused to sing the national anthem during a recent Women’s World Cup match in protest against the Trump administration.
Midfielder Rapinoe, who is lesbian, remained silent while her teammates sang the anthem before the team’s June 11 match against Thailand.
Rapinoe signaled she would not sing the anthem during an interview with Yahoo Sports prior to the tournament, which is being held in France.
“I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart,” Rapinoe said in May. “I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.”
Rapinoe said that she doesn’t feel at odds with protesting Trump and also wearing a United States kit when she plays, calling herself 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,” Rapinoe said. “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,” she added. “Scary. Really scary.”
Rapinoe, who is currently dating WNBA star Sue Bird, said her anthem protest is an alternative form of protest, after soccer players were banned from kneeling during the national anthem, with the sport’s federation requiring they “stand and honor the flag.”
She also told Sports Illustrated that she wouldn’t accept an invite to the White House, should her team win — something that seems fairly certain after the team’s historic 13-0 win against Thailand, the highest number of goals ever recorded at a Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe was one of the team’s goal scorers, and told Fox Sports that critics of the team’s celebrations — which were slammed by some on social media for being disrespectful — were ignoring that some of the women had been “dreaming about [the World Cup] for their whole lives.”
“You can’t fault them for that joy,” she said. “If anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, not playing the right way, not being the right ambassador for the sport, they can come at us, ’cause I think our only crime was an explosion of joy last night.”
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 12, 2019