In a statement released on Friday, Washington Spirit players voiced their respectful disagreement with team owner Bill Lynch’s decision to play the national anthem ahead of schedule on Wednesday, preventing Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe from protesting.
“We respect our owner’s freedom to share his views and we understand his intentions,” the statement read. “But as a team we don’t necessarily agree with those opinions or the actions taken on Wednesday evening.”
They added that they would have liked to have been consulted or even informed about the move.
Rapinoe planned on taking a knee during the national anthem in “a nod to [Colin] Kaepernick” but Lynch, who is a veteran, had the anthem played while players from both teams were still in the locker room.
“While we respect every individual’s right to express themselves, and believe Ms. Rapinoe to be an amazing individual with a huge heart; we respectfully disagree with her method of hijacking our organization’s event to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal—albeit worthy—cause,” Lynch wrote in a statement.
Kaepernick, the 49ers' backup quarterback, has been in the news lately for choosing not to stand for the national anthem before preseason games, protesting police violence and what he believes is racial inequality in America.
“It’s f------ unbelievable. Saddened by it,” Rapinoe said of Lynch’s decision on Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. “It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event.”