United States women's national team star Megan Rapinoe knelt while the national anthem played prior to her NWSL match Sunday night in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"I am disgusted with the way he has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this," Rapinoe told espnW's Julie Foudy. "It is overtly racist. 'Stay in your place, black man.' Just didn't feel right to me. We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated."
Good Morning America provided a picture of her gesture:
Kaepernick, 28, has been at the center of the sports universe over his decision to sit down during the national anthem in protest of discrimination against people of color. His protest went unnoticed early in the preseason but made national news when a reporter asked him about it after the team's third game.
"People don't realize what's really going on in this country," Kaepernick said, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. "There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for. And that's something that needs to change. That's something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it's not happening for all right now."
Kaepernick initially sat down for the first three games before taking a knee for the 49ers' preseason finale. He indicated it was a compromise, which he intended to honor military members who served while still getting his message across in a peaceful manner.
Rapinoe, who came out as gay in 2012, said she relates to Kaepernick's feelings of discrimination as part of a minority group.
"We are not saying we are not one [of] the greatest countries in [the] world. Just need to accept that [it is] not perfect, things are broken," Rapinoe told Foudy. "And quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven't had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling."
The 31-year-old has been a vocal activist for LGBT groups since coming out. She's done prominent work with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and Athlete Ally, becoming one of the nation's most high-profile gay athletes in the process.
She is the first white athlete to join Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem. 49ers safety Eric Reid and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also showed their solidarity during the final week of the preseason.
Neither the U.S. national team nor the Seattle Reign, Rapinoe's NWSL club, have commented on her decision at this time.
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