During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the National Anthem and medal ceremonies were just as nail-biting as the competitions themselves. There was always the question of whether athletes would kneel or stand during this part of the Games, and what type of reaction they would receive from news sources and social media. For the most part, the athletes seemed to respect each individual’s choice in the matter without giving their teammates much grief.
However, star goalie Hope Solo claimed that this wasn’t the case for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. In an interview on Goal’s All of Us podcast, Solo revealed that one teammate, in particular, could be a bit pushy with her own beliefs.
During the interview, the 40-year-old retired goalie explained how she navigated the National Anthem controversy and former President Donald Trump’s criticisms over social media. Solo admitted that the team’s past protests were in fact controversial, but the intention behind them was for the purpose of inclusion.
“I think the rhetoric surrounding this team has been both divisive and inclusive,” Solo shared. “I guess it’s kind of where we are in politics in this day and age.”
For teammate Megan Rapinoe, however, there was no room for the middle among the team. According to Solo, Rapinoe wanted all of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to kneel in unison during the Anthem.
“I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way,” the goalie star stated.
U.S. Women’s Soccer Star Says There’s ‘A Lot of Pressure’ During National Anthem
Previously, the team agreed as a unit that they would kneel during the National Anthem. Though, with Solo’s words in mind, it seems the decision was based on avoiding conflict than it was rallying for social change. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem that there’s much bad blood between the U.S. Women’s Soccer teammates.
In fact, the women’s main focus during their National Anthem protests is for equal pay among men and women. This is an issue that hits close to home with the Olympians, as the athletes have even fought with U.S. Soccer to ensure pay equity between the men’s and women’s teams.
Originally, though, the protests on the team began with Rapinoe’s response to Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Rapinoe was the first among the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to kneel in solidarity with the former NFL star in light of racial activism. Now, five years later, fellow teammate Solo claimed that the tension on the world stage is even more severe.
“I think that’s really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes, there’s a lot of pressure,” Solo shared.