Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, the 31-year-old midfielder known best as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, knelt on the sidelines during the Seattle Reign’s match against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday.
While other players in the National Women’s Soccer League rested their hands on their hearts during the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Rapinoe’s hung by her sides.
After the game, and in response to a tweet thanking her for supporting Kaepernick, Rapinoe tweeted, “It’s the least I can do. Keep the conversation going.”
Rapinoe also told American Soccer Now that the move was “very intentional,” according to the Associated Press.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the anthem in protest of police brutality has caused backlash, despite the support of Rapinoe and other NFL stars like Eric Reid and Jeremy Lane.
“I would love to meet with him or talk to him on the phone to help share his message in a better way,” she said, explaining that Kaepernick could make an “impact” if he took a different approach. “If he is willing to get off his high horse and humble himself, we could do a lot of good together.”
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Yet, despite the brewing controversy, Kaepernick’s stance has led his jersey to become the No. 1 pick in the 49ers store. It was previously the 20th most popular jersey to purchase, reported The San Francisco Chronicle.
Kaepernick has put his money where his mouth is, announcing last Thursday that he’ll donate $1 million throughout the year to community groups affected by racial inequality and police brutality.
I’m currently working with organizations to be involved, and making sure I’m actively in these communities, as well as donating the first million dollars I make this year to different organizations to help these communities and help these people,” said Kaepernick, who is guaranteed a $11.9 million salary this year. “I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people.”