Megan Rapinoe says U.S. Soccer anthem rule silenced Black players on roster

Megan Rapinoe was a big reason U.S. Soccer implemented a rule that prevented its players from kneeling during the national anthem. Rapinoe took a knee in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. The following spring, U.S. Soccer required all players to stand during the anthem.

That rule no longer exists. Following protests all around the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death, U.S. Soccer repealed that rule. Players will be allowed to protest during the anthem.

Rapinoe, 34, believes that’s a step in the right direction. Rapinoe explained why the old rule was damaging to players on the team during a podcast with Julie Foudy of ESPN.

«They were silencing me and then sort of in effect silencing, or working to silence, any other player, particularly any other Black player who would have tried to kneel,» Rapinoe told Foudy. «So if they’re going to treat me the way that they did, what does that say to AD [Adrianna Franch] or Crystal or Lynn or Christen Press? What does it say to those players?»

That interview will be released Monday.

In its statement reversing the rule, U.S. Soccer admitted the organization has “not done enough to listen” to its players. U.S. Soccer also apologized to its Black players for not using its platform in an effective manner. It promised to do better in the future.

In June, Crystal Dunn revealed she was afraid to take a knee with Rapinoe in 2016. Dunn, 27, believed she may have lost her job if she protested with Rapinoe. Dunn was in her first full year with the team at the time.

Rapinoe said she wished the U.S. Soccer and the NFL would have reacted differently at the time, but that they deserve credit for taking “the first step.”

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