The US women’s national team want the US Soccer Federation to repeal the anthem policy it instituted after Megan Rapinoe started kneeling during the the Star-Spangled Banner.
The four-time world champions also want the federation to state publicly that the policy was wrong and issue an apology to the team’s black players and supporters.
“Further, we believe the Federation should lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement that it tried to silence four years ago,” the US women’s team said in a statement posted on the Twitter feed of its players’ association Monday night.
Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem at a pair of national team matches in 2016. She said she wanted to express solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who silently took a knee during the national anthem before NFL games to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.
The US Soccer Federation then approved a policy in February 2017 that stated players “shall stand respectfully” during national anthems. The policy remains in place, though the unions for the men’s and women’s teams believe it doesn’t apply to their players because of their collective bargaining agreements.
Kaepernick and Rapinoe each faced sharp criticism for the protest for years. But public sentiment has changed since George Floyd’s death last month.
Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and saying that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the country, some of which became violent.
A lawyer for the men’s team union also called for the repeal of the policy and an apology in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, which was the first to report on the US women’s statement.
Among Rapinoe’s most visible critics for her stance was US president Donald Trump, who targeted the star midfielder following her two-goal performance against Spain in last year’s World Cup quarter-finals, although he addressed Twitter user @meganrapino rather than Rapinoe’s official account @mPinoe before correcting it about an hour later.
“Women’s soccer player, @meganrapino, just stated that she is “not going to the F…ing White House if we win.” Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level… ….in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!
“Finish the job! We haven’t yet……..invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
….in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019
The USA women ultimately won the tournament with Rapinoe finishing on six goals and claiming the Golden Ball as the top player of the competition.