In their round of 16 tie against Sweden, six members of the USWNT chose not to sing along during the national anthem. The decision has been attributed to Megan Rapinoe, a prominent figure in the team’s political advocacy and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
Following a goalless draw against Sweden, the USA faced an early exit from the World Cup after a tense penalty shootout. Sweden emerged victorious, delivering the defending champions their earliest World Cup exit in history.
The National Anthem Controversy
Several United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) players decided not to perform the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” before their games in the Women’s World Cup. The decision has stirred debate and criticism in the reigning champions’ native nation.
During their Group E matches against Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Portugal, the majority of USWNT players did not sing the national anthem. Their acts are a type of protest in North America against racial injustice and police violence. It is not the first time the squad has taken such a stance; in 2016, some players kneeled during the anthem to raise awareness about important social concerns.
On her SiriusXM program, journalist Megyn Kelly publicly criticised the USWNT, accusing them of lacking patriotism and disrespecting their country. She said that the players’ refusal to perform the national anthem or cover their hearts was an embarrassment to the country and the military.
“Megan Rapinoe, she’s the leader of all this… She’s not a starter. So that’s why she’s not on camera when they’re doing the national anthem, but she’s behind a lot of this,” Kelly said while hosting the Megyn Kelly Show. She went on to insist that she won’t be supporting the USWNT in the knockout stages after the “shameful” actions of Rapinoe and a number of her team-mates.
“She’s (Rapinoe) poisoned the entire team against the country for which they play,” Kelly added. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not rooting for them. I’m not with them. I hope they lose…It’s shameful. These girls are shameful. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
Rapinoe is renowned as an activist who uses her platform to raise awareness of social issues and has not been hesitant to blend politics and sports. She previously kneeled during the anthem in solidarity of Colin Kaepernick’s protest, stating that she would never feel the same way about the national anthem again.
Despite the national anthem controversy, the USWNT qualified for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup after finishing second in Group E. They won once against Vietnam and drew twice against the Netherlands and Portugal.
After USA’s defeat against Sweden in today’s match, Rapinoe was trolled for missing a crucial penalty shootout.