Comments follow Donald Trump saying team was ‘headed by a radical group of leftist maniacs’ who would have won gold if they weren’t ‘woke’
Former United States goalkeeper Hope Solo claims some players feel Megan Rapinoe “almost bullies” them into taking the knee when making the anti-racism gesture before matches.
Rapinoe and her team-mates took the knee at kick-off during matches in this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo as a gesture to show their opposition to all forms of discrimination. Many other international sides including GB did the same along with gold-medal winners Canada, although there were exceptions, including USA striker Carli Lloyd who chose to stand instead.
Former US president Donald Trump – a long-time critic of Rapinoe – attacked the squad’s stance on the issue earlier in August, saying the team was “headed by a radical group of leftist maniacs” and they would have won gold if they weren’t “woke”, adding: “Woke means you lose, everything that is woke goes bad, and our soccer team certainly has.”
Rapinoe first took a knee on September 5 2016, before a 2-2 draw between her club Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars.
Solo did not play again after being suspended by the US Soccer Federation following 12 August 2016’s Olympic quarter-final loss to Sweden, when she labelled Sweden a “bunch of cowards” in the media after the USA were eliminated.
After the 2015 and 2019 world champions won the bronze medal in Japan, Solo said: “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 in whatever way we’re comfortable with.”
Speaking on the most recent episode of Goal’s podcast: ‘All Of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show’, Solo continued: “The rhetoric surrounding this team has been both divisive and inclusive. The most important thing for this team is that they stand up for what is Federal Law here: Equal pay. That’s a very positive thing. That’s something that shouldn’t be divisive.
“Right now there’s been so much debate about kneeling and not kneeling. I know most people stand against discrimination. I obviously have friends on both sides of the aisle, but I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive.
“It is really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes, there’s a lot of pressure. Ultimately, at the end of the day, our number one focus should be – and has always been – to win first.
“A lot of athletes are carrying the world on their backs these days. There are a lot of outside pressures, but at the end of the day we have to remember that what we’re standing for is Federal Law here in the United States, that’s the most important thing.”
Megan Rapinoe’s representatives have been contacted by Telegraph Sport for a response.
Hundreds of football teams all across the world have taken a knee in the past year to take a stance against racism, including the England men’s football team at Euro 2020.
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