U.S. Soccer has said they will not punish Megan Rapinoe for taking a knee during the national anthem in order to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, who is protesting racial inequality in America.
Grant Wahl reported U.S. Soccer’s decision following Rapinoe kneeling when the United States played Thailand on September 15.
This is the statement USSF released in the wake of Rapinoe’s protest:
“Representing your country is a privilege and honor for any player or coach that is associated with U.S. Soccer’s National Teams. Therefore, our national anthem has particular significance for U.S. Soccer. In front of national and often global audiences, the playing of our national anthem is an opportunity for our Men’s and Women’s National Team players and coaches 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.”
This, combined with comments by Jill Ellis ahead of the game in which she expressed a personal preference that the team stand during the anthem, all pointed to Rapinoe possibly being told by U.S. Soccer not to kneel and doing it anyway.
That U.S. Soccer would in one breath discuss reflecting “upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country” and in the next consider punishing one of their athletes for exercising that very freedom is ludicrous, but then again, it’s not like U.S. soccer has never done something ludicrous before.
There’s been a lot of focus on Rapinoe and the act of kneeling and what it means when she does it in a USA jersey, as opposed to a Seattle Reign jersey. Discussion of methods of protest is fine and should be embraced as part of a broader discussion of how, when, and why Americans can or should draw attention to important issues that affect the country, as long as it doesn’t ignore why Rapinoe is kneeling, which is once again the unjust treatment of Black Americans, particularly the deaths of Black people by police brutality.