Rapinoe, co-captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team, garnered extensive attention after she refused to sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the team’s first World Cup match against Thailand on June 11. She had already received backlash for becoming the first white athlete to kneel during the anthem in 2016 after NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem in order to protest against perceived racism and inequality by law enforcement toward African Americans.
— The Hill (@thehill) June 25, 2019
After the U.S. soccer implemented a rule that required players to “stand and honor the flag,” Rapinoe then told Yahoo News that she would not put her hand over her heart or sing the national anthem.
During an interview with The Hill, Trump was asked whether he thought Rapinoe’s decision to protest the national anthem was appropriate.
“No. I don’t think so,” Trump responded.
Trump, however, did offer praise to the women’s soccer team after their win over Spain, advancing to the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
“I love watching women’s soccer,” he told the news website. “They’re really talented.”
Although Rapinoe had accepted U.S. soccer rule and no longer kneels, she told Yahoo Sports in May that she was not happy with the decision.
“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly. I think the NFL does it. 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,” she told the news website.
“I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again,” she also said during the interview.
Megan Rapinoe is a walking protest.
“There are things that are much more important than soccer.”
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) May 13, 2019
She said the reason she is doing this was that “Because I’m as talented as I am, I get to be here, you don’t get to tell me if I can be here or not. So it’s kind of a good [expletive] you to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the [Trump] administration might have toward people who don’t look exactly like him. Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really scary. Ahh, disturbing.”
Epoch Times contributor and attorney Elad Hakim said Rapinoe’s reason for protesting the anthem appears to be “misguided” in an op-ed published on June 19.
“First, the national anthem has nothing to do with President Donald Trump or any other individual president. Therefore, Rapinoe’s desire to spite the president isn’t a logical reason to refrain from reciting the anthem or putting her hand on her heart,” Hakim wrote in his op-ed.
“To the contrary, there are other, more compelling, reasons why she should stand for the flag and recite the national anthem. She should do so to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, to unite us as Americans, to honor the reality that we live in a democracy where we elect our leaders and aren’t ruled by a lifetime king, to salute the principle of justice, and to set an example for the next generation,” he added.