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17 Aug, 2021 17:17

Team USA social justice warrior Rapinoe would ‘almost bully’ players into taking ‘very divisive’ knee for BLM, claims ex-teammate

Team USA social justice warrior Rapinoe would ‘almost bully’ players into taking ‘very divisive’ knee for BLM, claims ex-teammate

US Women's National Team star Megan Rapinoe pressured other players into taking the knee during her country's national anthem before football matches, one of her former teammates has claimed.

Legendary American goalkeeper Hope Solo says that woke icon Rapinoe has been so intent on making the gesture, which drew fury from her familiar adversary, former US president Donald Trump, during the Tokyo Olympics, that she has urged her fellow squad members to follow her lead at times.

The controversial gesture has become prevalent in elite sports since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd in the US in May 2020, with passionate arguments on either side of the debate.

"Obviously I have friends on both sides of the aisle, but I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive," observed the retired Solo, telling Goal that responding to the issue judiciously is "tough" for players.

"Right now, what I've seen is there's been so much debate about the kneeling about the not kneeling. I know most people stand against discrimination. I live in a very conservative area here in North Carolina in the south. 

"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 whatever way we’re comfortable with, and I think that’s really hard, being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes."

In a repeat of some of the rows sparked by the taking of the knee before high-profile sporting events around the world, some viewers switched off when the gesture was made during the Tokyo Olympics, while others applauded the likes of Team GB, whose players had strongly advocated the act of symbolism.

Trump and others seemed to revel in Team USA's unexpected struggles on the pitch during the tournament, having turned against the team because of their fierce opposition to what they see as a misguided and futile move that is ultimately driven by the wrong motives.

Solo says there is "a lot of pressure" around making gestures such as kneeling, adding that the focus should be on winning.

The outspoken 40-year-old has appeared to previously criticize Rapinoe, telling arguably the best-known female footballer in the world that she had been part of a leadership team that had signed a "less than equal" agreement related to equal pay in 2016.

Some fans questioned the reliability of Solo's remarks. "Hope Solo’s last game with the USWNT was on the 12th of August 2016," said one.

"It wasn’t until the 15th of September that Megan Rapinoe started kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with [ex-NFL star] Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality against black people. Hope’s account of this is second-hand at best."

Heavily-followed writer Timothy Burke claimed: "This is a completely fabricated story.

"Hope Solo's last appearance was at the 2016 Rio Olympics, two weeks before Megan Rapinoe joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the anthem. And Rapinoe did so alone; none of her teammates joined her."

Solo supports campaigns around female issues and pay on social media, where she has more than 1.1 million followers and describes herself as a 'fighter for equality'.

The 202-cap stopper represented her country for almost 16 years, winning the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup alongside Rapinoe as part of a glittering career.

Also on rt.com ‘Leftist Maniacs’: Trump slams USWNT & ‘the woman with purple hair’, claims team would have won Olympic gold if weren’t so woke