Soccer team plays U.S. national anthem early to prevent player
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[September 08, 2016]
(Reuters) - The Washington
Spirit women's soccer team on Wednesday played the U.S. national
anthem while players were still in their locker rooms, preventing
visiting star Megan Rapinoe from continuing her protest for social
Rapinoe knelt during "The Star Spangled Banner" before her game on
Sunday in Chicago and vowed to continue to do so in support of San
Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did not stand for
the song before his NFL team's last two pre season games to protest
against racial injustice and police brutality.
Many Americans saw his gesture as a sign of disrespect to the flag
and criticism was widespread, but Kaepernick has also been supported
by some fellow athletes.
"We decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule
rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel
such an act would represent," the Spirit said in a statement.
Rapinoe, whose team, the Seattle Reign, were in the Washington
D.C.-area to play the Spirit, said that she was "saddened" by the
team's decision not to play the anthem with players on the field,
according to the Washington Post.
On Sunday, Rapinoe said that as a gay American, she understood what
it was like to "look at the flag and not have it protect all of your
liberties" and that she planed to continue to kneel in order to spur
conversation about social injustices.
"We respectfully disagree with her method of hijacking our
organization's event to draw attention to what is ultimately a
personal - albeit worthy - cause," said the Spirit, a National
Women's Soccer League team owned by Bill Lynch.
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U.S. women's soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe speaks to the
media during a Nike unveiling event in New York, March 17, 2016.
Rapinoe objected to the team's use of the word "hijack," days before
the 15th anniversary of September 11 attacks.
"It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst
tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event,"
Rapinoe said after the game, according to The Washington Post.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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