Megan Rapinoe is bidding farewell to the United States Women’s National Team in a post that also featured a message that could be a response to her critics.
In an Instagram post, the two-time World Cup winner thanked fans and teammates for her long, storied career with the National Team while acknowledging the U.S.’s recent loss to Sweden.
The unfortunate conclusion of her career and expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to represent her country for two decades despite how others have viewed her these past few years.
“It has been my honor to play for our country, with so many incredible women, for so many years. Thank you, a million times over,” Rapinoe said at the conclusion of her post.
Hardly any players on the reigning US women’s soccer team sang the national anthem during games in the World Cup and Rapinoe was among them. Not to mention, she kneeled during the playing of the Anthem several times over the years which also caught hell from fans.
Rapinoe became widely known as far more than a soccer player in 2016 when she became the first white athlete to take a knee during the national anthem in solidarity with the protests against racism and police violence staged by Colin Kaepernick.
Rapinoe explained why she felt the need to act:
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. 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 around 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.”
Her new statement aligns with what her fiancée Sue Bird said about her during a recent segment on ESPN when Bird praised Rapinoe for her “patriotism” and made it clear that her protests during the national anthem were because she “loved her country.”
“Her patriotism has led her to lend her voice to those who need it,” Bird said in the segment. “When she started kneeling to protest racial inequality in the United States, she did it because she loved America and beloved it could be a better version of itself.”
Rapinoe announced earlier this year that she’d be retiring from soccer entirely after the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season. She currently plays for OL Reign in Seattle.
OL Reign’s final regular season match will be on Oct. 15 in Chicago, though the team is currently in fourth place and could make a run in this season’s playoffs.
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