Megan Rapinoe kneels during national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick

Megan Rapinoe

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem on Sunday night, before the Seattle Reign’s game against the Chicago Red Stars, “in a little nod” to NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers quarterback last week said that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour”.

Kaepernick’s refusal to rise for the anthem was to protest racial injustice and minority oppression. People noticed it when he chose not to get up, and remain seated on the bench before a preseason game against Green Bay. He later refused to stand for it on Thursday, when his team, the San Francisco 49ers, played the San Diego Chargers. Team-mate Eric Reid joined him in support. It is a silent protest against racially motivated police brutality and the struggles of the average African-American in the United States of America.

His actions have drawn debate in America, and many people are not fond of the NFL player’s actions, calling them “disrespectful”. In fact, the union for police officers who work San Francisco home games says its members may boycott patrolling the stadium if the 49ers don’t “discipline Colin Kaepernick”. One anonymous NFL executive said, “I don’t want him anywhere near my team. He’s a traitor.”

However, quite obviously, his actions have resonated with many, something that was on display in the National Women’s Soccer League game with soccer international Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem before Seattle Reign’s NWSL game against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday.

When asked about her actions, Rapinoe said, “It was very intentional. 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 colour 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.”

For the uninitiated, Rapinoe made her with the senior U.S. Women’s national team in 2006. She has represented the US in two Women’s World Cups and two Olympics.

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