US Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe pressured other players into taking the knee during her country’s national anthem before football matches, one of her former teammates has claimed.
Legendary American goalkeeper Hope Solo says that woke icon Rapinoe had been so intent on making the gesture, which drew fury from her familiar adversary, former US president Donald Trump, during the Tokyo Olympics, that she would urge her fellow squad members to follow her lead.
The controversial gesture has become prevalent in elite sports since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd in the US in May 2020, with passionate arguments on both sides of the debate.
“Obviously I have friends on both sides of the aisle, but I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive,” observed the retired Solo, telling Goal that responding to the issue judiciously is “tough” for players.
(Whispering)If Hope Solo really was close to Carli Lloyd as some have said, can absolutely see Lloyd telling Solo that Rapinoe was “bullying” people because even on the day of her retirement, we remember that Carli is all about being Bitter Carli, with the volume turned way up.
— Matthew Zimmerman (@Zimmsy) August 17, 2021
yes but Solo said she personally saw it!
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) August 17, 2021
“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. I live in a very conservative area here in North Carolina in the south.
“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.”
definitely wouldn’t still talk to her former teammates…
— JP (@bsuphi644) August 17, 2021
She might (though by all accounts her only friend on the team is Carly Lloyd). But she didn’t say she heard about it or that she was told about it. She claimed to have personally witnessed it.
— Bill Caffrey (@moviegoer74) August 17, 2021
In a repeat of some of the rows sparked by the taking of the knee before high-profile sporting events around the world, some viewers switched off when the gesture was made during the Tokyo Olympics, while others applauded the likes of Team GB, whose players had strongly advocated the act of symbolism.
Trump and others revelled in Team USA’s unexpected struggles on the pitch during the tournament, having turned against the team because of their fierce opposition to what they see as a misguided and futile move that is ultimately driven by the wrong motives.
Solo says there is “a lot of pressure” around making gestures such as kneeling, adding that the focus should be on winning.
You don’t have to “be there” to know Hope Solo was kicked off the USWNT two weeks before Colin Kaepernick even took his first knee.
— Jeff Baudelaire 🍋🏔🌲 (@starwart1) August 17, 2021
There’s little doubt that Solo is lying, she’s got an ax to grind. Rapinoe spoke out against Solo in 2016 when she made comments about the Swedish team. Solo was suspended for 6 months and kicked off the team. Solo had problems all throughout her career.
— Mandiana Jones 🏳️🌈 (@Mandiana_Jones) August 17, 2021
The outspoken 40-year-old has appeared to previously criticize Rapinoe, telling arguably the best-known female footballer in the world that she had been part of a leadership team that had signed a “less than equal” agreement related to equal pay in 2016.
Some fans questioned the reliability of Solo’s remarks. “Hope Solo’s last game with the USWNT was on the 12th of August 2016,” said one.
“It wasn’t until the 15th of September that Megan Rapinoe started kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with [ex-NFL star] Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality against black people. Hope’s account of this is second-hand at best.”
Shocking that a dirtbag like Solo is unreliable lol
— Paul Sporer (@sporer) August 17, 2021
Solo is telling the truth and you know it.
— Tarquin X. Freeman (@TarquinXFreeman) August 17, 2021
Heavily-followed writer Timothy Burke claimed: “This is a completely fabricated story.
“Hope Solo’s last appearance was at the 2016 Rio Olympics, two weeks before Megan Rapinoe joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the anthem. And Rapinoe did so alone; none of her teammates joined her.”
Solo supports campaigns around female issues and pay on social media, where she has more than 1.1 million followers and describes herself as a ‘fighter for equality’.
The 202-cap stopper represented her country for almost 16 years, winning the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup alongside Rapinoe as part of a glittering career.