Rapinoe has vowed in the past not to put her hand over her heart or sing the national anthem. She kept her word while the “Star-Spangled Banner” blared throughout Stade Auguste Dealuane in Reims, France. She stood silent while her teammates all sang the lyrics.
The midfielder was ridiculed on social media for her decision.
Rapinoe, who was the first white athlete to kneel during the national anthem before a sporting event following former NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s decision in 2016, told Yahoo Sports last month she would “probably never sing the national anthem again.”
She said she wasn’t satisfied with the conversation that stemmed from her decision to kneel during the anthem. She expressed her displeasure with U.S. soccer’s statement about the kneeling controversy and the federation’s decision to adopt a rule requiring players to “stand and honor the flag.”
“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly. I think the NFL does it,” she told Yahoo Sports. “I felt like the statement from U.S. Soccer, and then the rule they made without ever talking to me, that was the same as what the NFL was doing – just to not have the conversation, to try to just stop me from doing what I'm doing instead of at least having a conversation, and trying to figure out a [solution] that makes sense for everyone.”
Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before her match against the Chicago Red Stars in 2016. She called her act a “little nod” to Kaepernick and “everything that he’s standing for right now.”
She recalled to Yahoo Sports that the whole controversy “wasn’t super easy for me.”
“I think that was a really good lesson for me: This is what it’s going to take for things to change, norms to change, conventions to change, to try to break down white supremacy and break down racial bias,” she said. “It’s going to take it being hard. For everyone. … That really resonated with me.”
Rapinoe was a captain before Tuesday’s match against Thailand. She scored a goal in the 79th minute.
She will definitely be a key player for the U.S. in order to get back to the World Cup title match.