US soccer star Megan Rapinoe stuck to her resolve not to sing the national anthem ahead of the team’s first match in the Women’s World Cup against Thailand in France on Tuesday.
The player stood silent and stony-faced as her teammates sang along to the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ in the Auguste-Delaune Stadium in Reims.
The 33-year-old midfielder went on to score a goal in the game as the US women’s soccer team recorded the biggest victory in World Cup history with a thumping 13-0 win over Thailand and kicked off their quest for a fourth title.
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe (far right) was the only player in the US women’s soccer team not to sing the national anthem before the World Cup game against Thailand in France on Tuesday
The 33-year-old midfielder stood silent and stony-faced as the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ blared out across the Auguste-Delaune Stadium in Reims
But Rapinoe was criticized by some social media users for her decision not to honor the national anthem, while others praised her.
‘Megan Rapinoe needs to be booted for her lack of patriotism. Why play for a country you hate,’ one person tweeted.
Another wrote: ‘Megan Rapinoe is not singing the anthem (because she’s not allowed to kneel) and I love her so much it hurts.’
‘So weird to have a scowl while your national anthem, the one that gave you the freedom to pretty much actually PLAY in this game,’ one person commented.
Another angry Twitter user said: ‘Megan Rapinoe doesn’t belong wearing red, white, and blue. Don’t play for the USA if you can’t respect it, don’t represent the USA if you hate it.’
Someone else posted: ‘Good for her! That is her right! Just like it is my right not to watch or cheer for spoiled rotten unpatriotic and unappreciative people like her who play on our National Team and are supported by my taxes!’
The player was criticized by some users on social media for her decision not to honor the national anthem
Other Twitter users praised the outspoken activist for sticking to her vow not to sing the anthem
One person tweeted a picture of Rapinoe’s still face next to one of her teammates singing and holding their hand over their hearts, saying she should have done the same
Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports last month that she would ‘probably never sing or honor the national anthem again’.
‘I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again,’ she said in an interview published on May 13.
‘It’s kind of a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the [Trump] administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him,’ the LGBT activist said in an interview published on May 13.
Rapinoe (far right) stuck to her resolve not to sing the national anthem. She told Yahoo Sports last month that she would ‘probably never sing or honor the national anthem again’
The soccer star and LGBT activist said not honoring the anthem is ‘a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the [Trump] administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him’
When the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ ended and players clapped, Rapinoe raised her fist in the air
Rapinoe has also preemptively declined the customary invite to the White House from President Donald Trump if the US Women’s Soccer Team wins the World Cup.
‘I am not going to fake it, hobnob with the president, who is clearly against so many of the things that I am [for] and so many of the things that I actually am,’ the soccer star told Sports Illustrated in May.
‘I have no interest in extending our platform to him.’
The team went on to record the biggest victory in World Cup history with a thumping 13-0 win over Thailand. Rapinoe is pictured controlling the ball during the game
Rapinoe celebrated after winning the France 2019 Women’s World Cup Group F football match between the USA and Thailand
Rapinoe is pictured celebrating with midfielder Lindsey Horan (right) after the team scored a goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup Group F
Rapinoe previously visited then-President Barack Obama in the White House with the U.S. team after the 2015 World Cup win.
Rapinoe was not always an outspoken US cultural critic.
In 2011, she proudly sang ‘Born in the USA’ into a microphone after scoring a decisive point in a 3-0 win vs. Colombia during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match.
The US forward celebrated after scoring one of thirteen goals in the group stage game
Rapinoe during the national anthem before the semifinals match between Jamaica and United States at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in 2018
Megan Rapinoe (second from left) kneels during the playing of the US National Anthem before a match against Thailand in 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Ohio. In response, the United States Soccer Federation created a rule requiring players to stand ‘respectfully’ during the playing of the anthem
But over the span of eight years, the athlete, part of the beloved 2015 women’s World Cup-winning team, has become as famous for her activism on and off the field as she is for her electrifying play.
The Redding, California native and American poster girl recently became the first openly-gay woman to pose for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
In 2016, she was the first white athlete to take a knee during a pre-game National Anthem performance in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who used the gesture as a means of silent protest against racism and police brutality after a string of high-profile fatal shootings of black Americans by law enforcement officers.
Rapinoe during the national anthem before the International Friendly match between the USA and Russia in 2017 in Texas
An Instagram photo of Megan Rapinoe, who recently became the first openly-gay woman to pose for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Rapinoe of the USA poses for a portrait during the official FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 portrait
‘I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,’ Rapinoe told reporters at the time.
In response to Rapinoe’s protest, the United States Soccer Federation created a rule requiring players to stand ‘respectfully’ during the playing of the anthem.
Rapinoe was also one of the women’s national team players to file a lawsuit in federal court in March alleging gender discrimination.
The players have said in court documents that US men’s team players earned a $55,000 bonus apiece for making the World Cup roster in 2014, while the women earned a $15,000 bonus each for making the 2015 World Cup roster.
The US women’s soccer team has been considerably more successful than the men, winning the World Cup in 1991, 1999, and 2015.
Rapinoe said the lawsuit was about ‘inspiring women around the world to stand up for what they believe in. They have an ally in us. We are with them, we support them, and we will continue this fight as long as we need to.’
The player told Yahoo Sports in May that she feels responsible to use her platform to speak out on social issues, regardless of the consequences or backlash she may receive from Trump or his supporters.
‘I feel like I’m a walking protest,’ Rapinoe said after calling the president a ‘sexist,’ ‘misogynistic,’ ‘small-minded,’ ‘racist,’ adding that he is ‘not a good person’.
After being asked what it would take to restore her former patriotic posture, Rapinoe answered: ‘It would take a lot’.
‘It would take criminal justice reform. It would take the huge inequality gap that we have to be much better. It would take a lot of progress in LGBTQ rights. We just have such a disparity in this country in so many different ways, inequality in so many different ways… There are things that are much more important than soccer,’ she said.