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Megan Rapinoe Kneels During National Anthem Before Multiple Games for Team USA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist

Seattle Reign forward Megan Rapinoe is shown during the national anthem before an NWSL soccer match against the Portland Thorns in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Associated Press

United States women's national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe continued her protest on Sept. 15 kneeling for the national anthem before a friendly against Thailand in Columbus, Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch's Kyle Robertson shared a photo:

Kyle Robertson @KRobPhoto

#USWNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe kneels during the national anthem before her game against Thailand in Columbus https://t.co/cQUkqkYgEo

U.S. Soccer released a statement on the matter, via John D. Halloran of American Soccer Now:

John D. Halloran @JohnDHalloran

Statement from U.S. Soccer on ESPN2 broadcast. https://t.co/4n9LfFcBHM

She would once again take a knee during the anthem on Sunday against the Netherlands, per Fox Soccer: 

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem while playing for the #USWNT again. https://t.co/ZGWvKrZwMQ

Rapinoe may be in a category by herself. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl couldn't find evidence of any other player taking a knee during the national anthem ahead of an international match.

Rapinoe began her protest as a show of solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. She knelt while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played ahead of a Seattle Reign match against the Chicago Red Stars on Sept. 4.

In an interview with American Soccer Now's John D. Halloran, she explained the purpose behind her statement:

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 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.

She planned a similar demonstration in advance of Seattle's eventual 2-1 loss to the Washington Spirit on Sept. 7. In a proactive move to stifle Rapinoe's plans, the Spirit played the national anthem before the players arrived on the field.

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Before the match on Sept. 15, USWNT coach Jill Ellis supported Rapinoe but added she expected the midfielder would stand with her teammates, per espnW's Graham Hays:

I totally understand where Megan is, in terms of her willingness to talk about hard social issues. I respect that. I support that. Those conversations should be had. Me personally, in this environment for a national team, I don't disassociate playing for your country. I think that's a part of a national symbol. So in terms of standing for a national anthem, I think that's an expectation of a national team player.

Kaepernick gained attention after he remained seated during the national anthem before San Francisco's third preseason game on Aug. 26.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said to NFL Media's Steve Wyche. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Kaepernick amended his protest to kneeling rather than sitting during the anthem after discussing the issue with Nate Boyer, a former NFL long snapper and Green Beret.

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