COLUMBUS, Ohio (CBSNewYork/AP) — Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the playing of the national anthem once again, this time before the U.S. women’s national soccer team match against Thailand in Columbus, Ohio.
Rapinoe did not start the game against Thailand at Mapfre stadium.
U.S. Soccer said in a statement they expect players and coaches to stand for the anthem.
“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,” U.S. Soccer said.
People took to social media to sound off on the kneel-down, as she received both praise and criticism for her decision.
This is the second time Rapinoe has knelt during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a game. The first time came at a National Women’s Soccer League game between her Seattle Reign and the Chicago Red Stars. She called it “a little nod” to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has refused to stand this season for the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
“I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country,” Rapinoe told the website American Soccer Now.
She went on to say: “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.”
Last week, the Washington Spirit prevented the 31-year-old from kneeling during the national anthem by altering its pregame ceremonies. The team moved up the anthem, playing it while both the Spirit and Reign were off the field.
“We decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent,” the Spirit said in a statement. “We understand this may be seen as an extraordinary step, but believe it was the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game on such an important night for our franchise.”
The Spirit said team owner Bill Lynch is a veteran who has lost friends in overseas conflicts, as had his close friends.
“The tradition of honoring our military and our patriotism before our games is very important to us,” the statement said. “We strongly feel that there are better ways to begin a conversation about a cause than tarnishing a tradition that is so important to so many.”
The Reign said they are standing by Rapinoe. In a statement, the team said it recognizes Rapinoe’s action “was offensive to some and a source of inspiration to others.”
“We empathize with those offended, as we understand that the playing of the national anthem is one of our nation’s most revered public celebrations, honoring the sacrifices that have been made — and continue to be made — by those serving in our armed forces,” the statement reads. “At the same time, we see many inspired by Megan’s decision, as the courage she exhibited by acting on her beliefs empowers others to take action as well.”
At a game Sunday night in Seattle, the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she stood and linked arms with her Reign teammates.
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