Megan Rapinoe planned to kneel during the national anthem on Wednesday night, but the Washington Spirit decided to play the anthem while both teams were in the locker room following warm-ups. After the game, Rapinoe criticized Spirit owner Bill Lynch and the Spirit organization.
"It's fucking unbelievable. Saddened by it. I think that it's pretty clear what the message is that I'm trying to bring to light," Rapinoe said. "I know in Chicago and what I have tried to talk about these last few days and what I intend to talk about, clearly, with these actions I think it's a necessary conversation. I think it was incredibly distasteful to say that I, four days before one of the worst tragedies we've had in our countries, to say that I 'hijacked' this event."
"We want to talk about disrespect, and me disrespecting the flag, he didn't even give both teams a chance to even stand in front of it and show their respects. It's unbelievable, it's truly an unbelievable act to me," Rapinoe said.
In a club statement sent moments after the anthem was played at the Maryland Soccerplex, the Spirit said,"We do regret that this decision has denied the players who had no intention of taking a knee their own opportunity to honor our great country from the field. This is an issue we are communicating to and with them about personally."
"I do. Yes, I do," Rapinoe said in regards to whether or not homophobia played a factor in the Spirit's decision. "I've had conversations with Spirit players both current and past. The fact that they don't have a Pride night and they have gay players on their team as well as everything else, they've made it pretty clear at least internally that that's not something they're interested in, which is homophobic to me. I don't know if that was directed at me because I'm gay, and that's a protest I'm making as a gay woman, that's a bit of a stretch. But yeah, I do think Bill Lynch is homophobic."