United States president Donald Trump has criticised Megan Rapinoe for protesting during the national anthem at the Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe took a knee in 2016 to show solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to highlight social inequality and the treatment of black men by the police in the United States.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” she said at the time. “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.”
The US Soccer Federation then introduced a new rule demanding all players stand for the anthem, saying: “As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played.”
Yet Rapinoe has remained a vocal supporter of Kaepernick and his cause and the 33-year-old attacker, who has described herself as “a walking protest”, has taken to abstaining from singing during pre-game ceremonies in France.
Asked this week if he thought USA co-captain Rapinoe’s actions were appropriate, Trump told The Hill: “No. I don’t think so.”
Trump has been a strong critic of Kaepernick and his fellow NFL stars for protesting during the national anthem and called for any players who kneel down during the ceremony to be fired.
“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said in 2017.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired’.”
Kaepernick soon left his then team the 49ers and has been left without a team in NFL since 2016. He filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that he had been blackballed by team owners because of his protest. In February, Kaepernick reached a confidential agreement with the NFL and subsequently withdrew his grievance.