USWNT Star Megan Rapinoe Kneels During National Anthem Before NWSL Match as "Nod to [Colin] Kaepernick"

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem prior to a NWSL match on Sunday night in a show of support for Colin Kaepernick.

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Complex Original

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Colin Kaepernick has obviously been subjected to a lot of criticism over the course of the last two weeks. Ever since he decided not to stand during the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Packers in San Francisco, the 49ers quarterback has been criticized by former NFL players like Jerry Rice, Tiki Barber, and Rodney Harrison, Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife Khalilah Camacho Ali, and even his own birth mother.

But Kaepernick has received a lot of support as well. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post defending Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner. Many U.S. veterans openly supported him, too, by using the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick on Twitter. And now, he has another supporter in USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, who decided to show her support by kneeling during the national anthem prior to an NWSL match on Sunday night as a "nod to Kaepernick."

Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem before a preseason game.

Rapinoe plays for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign and took a knee during the anthem before her team took the field for a match against the Chicago Red Stars. And after the match was over, she spoke with espnW’s Julie Foudy about why she chose to do it. "I am disgusted with the way [Kaepernick] has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this," she said. "It is overtly racist. 'Stay in your place, black man.' Just didn’t feel right to me. We need a more substantiative conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated."

It's the least I can do. Keep the conversation going.

— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) September 5, 2016

Rapinoe, who is gay, also spoke with American Soccer Now after the match and explained her decision not to stand during the anthem further. "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. "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 about it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful."

Rapinoe later called taking a knee during the anthem "the least I can do" on Twitter:

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem as "a nod to Kaepernick."

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 5, 2016

Kaepernick himself didn’t respond directly to Rapinoe’s gesture, but he did retweet her tweet above as well as this tweet that was sent out by ESPN to acknowledge what Rapinoe did:

Rapinoe is the latest athlete to show support for Kaepernick’s cause. Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid joined him in kneeling before the 49ers’ final preseason game against the Chargers, and Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also refused to stand for the anthem before a preseason game against the Raiders.

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