Insider Notes: Rapinoe reconsiders kneeling for anthem at USWNT matches
The U.S. women’s team plays Thailand on Thursday night, and Megan Rapinoe told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Wednesday that she wasn’t sure yet if she will take a knee during the national anthem in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his protest against police treatment of black Americans. Rapinoe took a knee in an NWSL game two weeks ago, but she stood and linked arms with her Seattle teammates last Sunday on 9/11. She told SI.com last Monday that if she was selected to play in the national team's friendlies, she would kneel, but she appears to be reconsidering that decision now.
Rapinoe did tell Schaap that it would be “more meaningful” to do something during a national team game than at a club game, but she indicated that it might not involve taking a knee. U.S. Soccer has communicated to Rapinoe that it thinks taking a knee would be disrespectful and that doing so would take attention away from Heather O’Reilly’s last game with the national team.
Here are a couple of other insider notes from around the soccer world:
Inter Milan bid big for James Rodriguez during summer transfer window
Real Madrid’s James Rodríguez revealed near the end of the transfer window that he was the subject of an €85 million transfer offer, but he didn’t reveal the name of the club. That club, sources say, was Inter Milan.
James didn’t want to move to Inter because he didn’t feel the club has a big enough stature these days. Still, Inter’s failed bid revealed a couple things: One, Inter’s ownership is capable of making an €85 million bid, which is a good sign for Inter fans. And two, James really does want to make a go of it at Real Madrid for now.
So far this season the 25-year-old James has been used by Zinedine Zidane as a substitute in the UEFA Super Cup and in two of Real Madrid's league matches and he was available off the bench to begin the club's Champions League title defense against Sporting Lisbon.
Expect FIFA council to approve expansion to 40-team World Cup in 2026
The FIFA Council meets again next month, and one item on the agenda will be World Cup 2026. We’ll find out how many teams will be in that tournament. Sources say it is likely that FIFA will vote to expand the tournament from 32 to 40 teams and the format will be eight groups with five teams apiece. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been vocal in his support for expansion of the competition.
In addition to the expansion vote, look for the bidding rules to be laid out in detail next month. Once those rules are finalized, it will start to clear the way for the United States to decide and formally announce it is bidding to host World Cup 2026.