Megan Rapinoe has joined NFL star Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the American national anthem in protest against injustice in the US.
The Seattle Reign star made her feelings clear ahead of the NWSL game against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, and followed in the footsteps of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick.
His protest gained nation-wide attention last week after he refused to stand when the anthem was sung, before kneeling in the next pre-season game that he was involved in.
“It was very intentional,” Rapinoe said after the game, as noted by The Guardian. “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”
Rapinoe is a high-profile figure in female sports, and sports in general in the US, having helped the national team win gold at the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 World Cup.
However, her decision will undoubtedly spark further debate and split opinion, with Kaepernick receiving plenty of criticism and support in equal measure since taking his stance.
It remains to be seen how long it takes for the pair, and others, to continue to protest before they see the change that they are seeking being implemented, and it certainly looks as though it’s gathering support with more athletes likely to follow their example.