U.S. women’s national team and Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe opened up about protesting and kneeling during the national anthem in an interview with BBC’s World Football show. Rapinoe became the first white American athlete to take a knee during the national anthem in order to show solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the NFL, who took a knee to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
Rapinoe said that the decision to kneel and support Kaepernick wasn’t a hard one, and that his message would resonate even more if it came from her too.
“It was really important for that message to come from someone who looks like me,” Rapinoe said. “Everyone who has a pair of eyes in this country understands the racial tensions and the issues we have are very serious and they’re not going away. If we want to be proud to be from a country like America and all the things that we hang our hats on like diversity, equality, land of the free and home of the brave, it’s everybody’s responsibility to ensure that everyone in the country is being afforded the same rights.”
[More from Excelle Sports: Megan Rapinoe on national anthem protests: ‘How can I not kneel too?’]
The U.S. Soccer Federation passed a new rule prohibiting national team players from kneeling during the anthem in response to Rapinoe. Not surprisingly, she had some criticism about the new rule.
“One of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s points is that it’s an honor and a privilege to to play for this country and it is,” Rapinoe said. “But we also represent the entire country, and the idea of liberty and justice isn’t afforded to everyone. Their ruling was short-sighted. It didn’t signal to communities of color that they had their back, it didn’t signal a desire for a greater sense of equality.”
The protests and kneeling during the national anthem has moved again to the front page of the sports world this week after President Donald Trump’s comments last weekend about NFL players kneeling and protesting the anthem. WNBA teams, especially the Los Angeles Sparks, have also protested the anthem.
“His comments are disgusting,” Rapinoe said. “They’re un-American, to say the very least. It’s totally inappropriate, it’s un-presidential, it’s embarrassing. For the President of the United States to say that is just crazy. It’s completely insane and, unfortunately, something we’ve come to expect.”