Megan Rapinoe isn’t afraid to stand up and speak out on what she believes in.
She’s also not afraid to protest against the United States, in a U.S. kit leading into and during next month’s Women’s World Cup in France with the USWNT looking for a fourth-star and what would be back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles.
“I feel like I’m a walking protest,” she stated in an interview in a recent, lengthy feature with Yahoo Sports, ” … a walking protest when it comes to the Trump administration [because of] everything I stand for.”
The 33-year-old USWNT co-captain said that she will “never put her hand over her heart” during the national anthem and will “probably never sing the anthem again” in protest to the current state of the United States government and President Donald Trump.
“I feel like [representing the United States is] kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it,” Rapinoe 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.”
Rapinoe’s decision to protest against the United States’ government is nothing new, nor is her ability to talk about it.
Her decision to initially kneel in 2016 during the national anthem came with all sorts of backlash, first from some family in the beginning, but more from the media and those on social media alike.
She spoke about her decision to protest and the reasons for it back then in a feature story in The Players’ Tribune in October 2016.
“I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member’s body lying dead in the street,” Rapinoe said then. “But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache.
“There is no perfect way to protest. I know that nothing I do will take away the pain of those families. But I feel in my heart it is right to continue to kneel during the national anthem, and I will do whatever I can to be part of the solution.”
Rapinoe was the first white athlete to kneel during the national anthem prior to any sporting event, following after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the trend, notably, in 2016.
In 2017, the United States Soccer Federation created a rule requiring players to stand “respectfully” during the playing of the anthem.
The USSF said then in a statement that “[The American] national anthem is an opportunity … 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.”
“I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” she said in response to the USSF’s decision in 2017.
She elaborated more on the USSF’s rule and compared it to what the NFL has done with the anthem protests in the recent feature with Yahoo Sports.
“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly,” she said. “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.
“We can actually have a conversation, instead of just telling me that it’s a privilege to pull on the jersey. Like, of course, it’s a privilege for me to pull on the jersey. Part of that privilege is representing America, and representing America is representing all of America. So I feel like there was a major miss on that part, which is unfortunate.”
The USWNT opens their Women’s World Cup title defense on June 11 against Thailand.