The United States Women’s Soccer team has long been at the forefront of the social justice movement. Ever since Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee before NFL games, Megan Rapinoe and the USWNT have been vocal about what they see as injustices in America as well as their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Their repeated decision to kneel as a form of protest has angered much of America. So much so that many Americans were actively rooting against the team as they attempted to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Their loss in the semifinals to Canada was treated with borderline joy, with many blasting the team for kneeling before their first game of group play against Team Sweden in Tokyo. 

Former USWNT goalie Hope Solo joined “All Of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show” last week, and dished on the state of the team as well as the polarizing act of kneeling by members of the USWNT. 

“I do appreciate the fact that there’s no National Anthem before the game to really remove that decision from athletes,” Hope said. “Because that’s really tough.”

In February 2021, United States Soccer repealed their policy stating that “all persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”

After the death of George Floyd in May 2020, kneeling during the national anthem became a near requirement for athletes before sporting events. The select few who chose to stand during the anthem were blasted for not protesting “systemic racism” in America. 

Recently retired New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was forced to apologize after saying “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” According to Solo, the pressure to kneel also occurred among the USWNT. 

“I think the rhetoric surrounding this team has been both divisive and inclusive,” Solo said on the podcast. “I guess it’s kind of where we are in politics in this day and age. “

“Right now what I’ve seen is there’s been so much debate about the kneeling, about the not kneeling. I know most people stand against discrimination,” Solo added. “And I live in the south, I live in a very conservative area here in North Carolina in the south. Obviously, I have friends on both sides of the aisle, but I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive.”

“It’s tough,” Solo told Goal. “I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way.”

“But it’s our right as Americans to do it whatever way we’re comfortable with and I think that’s really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes,” Solo continued. “There’s a lot of pressure and ultimately at the end of the day our number one focus should and has always been to win first.”

Solo did say that the team is united when it comes to equal pay, stating that “we still don’t have equal pay here in the United States.”

Rapinoe is the face of the USWNT and recently became one of the new faces of Victoria Secret, who decided to move away from their traditional models in favor of  “women famous for their achievements and not their proportions.”

Rapinoe told the New York Times that Victoria Secret’s previous way of selling their products was, “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired. And it was very much marketed toward younger women.” 

“As a gay woman,” Rapinoe said, “I think a lot about what we think is sexy, and we are afforded the ability to do that, because I don’t have to wear the traditional sexy thing to be sexy and I don’t think the traditional thing is sexy when it comes to my partner or people I’ve dated.”

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