Midfielder Megan Rapinoe chose to kneel during the national anthem ahead of the U.S. women’s national team’s match against Thailand on Thursday night.
Rapinoe recently knelt ahead of an NWSL match two weeks ago in solidarity with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his stance against racial inequality and police treatment toward blacks in America. She did so again before the U.S.’s match in Columbus, Ohio.
Rapinoe told ESPN Wednesday that she was still unsure what she would do ahead of the Thailand friendly, after telling SI last week that she intended to kneel.
After the game, Rapinoe told ESPN that she planned to keep kneeling going forward, doing “what she knew was right all along.” She was the only player who chose not to stand during the anthem.
“As of now I plan to keep kneeling," she said. "I'm trying to kind of formulate a better plan and an action step moving forward. But until then this is how I can help, this how I can use my voice going forward and this is how I can be an ally in this space.”
U.S. Soccer released a statement during the game, expressing that it did not agree with Rapinoe’s choice:
“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.”
Rapinoe told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap ahead of the game that it would be “more meaningful” to do something during a national team game than a club game, but she indicated that it might not involve taking a knee. Per SI’s Grant Wahl, U.S. Soccer communicated to Rapinoe ahead of the game that it would find taking a knee would be disrespectful and that doing so would take attention away from Heather O’Reilly’s final game with the national team.
The U.S. defeated Thailand 9–0.