Hope Solo is not exactly in agreement with her former U.S. Women’s National Team player Megan Rapinoe’s political activism and accused the famous midfielder of “bullying” fellow team members into taking a knee at games.
In an interview with soccer website Goal.com for its program “All of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show,” Solo said she didn’t agree with the current USWNT captain’s decision to bring politics onto the pitch. “I think the rhetoric surrounding this team has been both divisive and inclusive. I guess it’s kind of where we are in politics in this day and age,” Solo said.
Solo continued, “I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive. I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way.”
Solo was referring to ongoing controversy within the USWNT and larger U.S. Soccer Federation regarding how teams are required to conduct themselves during the national anthem at games. Rapinoe and several other current USWNT opted to kneel during the anthem in games last year, but not everyone decided to do so — including forward Carli Lloyd.
It’s unclear what Solo is talking about regarding watching Rapinoe bully people; there’s evidence to prove that clearly not everyone on the USWNT was “bullied” into kneeling at games because a few players opted to still stand. There’s also no proof that these players faced backlash privately or publicly for doing so.
Solo also hasn’t played on the USWNT with Rapinoe since the year she retired in 2016. The two were teammates from 2006-2016, though — and Solo was the team’s preferred starter and overall an outstanding keeper since 2005.
“For players that are standing I would say, continue to educate yourself,” Rapinoe previously told Goal. “Continue to educate yourself on the racial history in the country and continue to challenge yourself on why you’re standing, and why you’re putting maybe your personal beliefs over something like this that is so pressing to so many people.”
Furthermore, the team agreed they’d all stand for the anthem at games back in February. “Those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism, and I think we decided that moving forward we no longer feel the need to kneel because we are doing the work behind the scenes,” winger Crystal Dunn said at the time. “We never felt we were going to kneel forever, so there was always going to be a time that we felt it was time to stand.”
Rapinoe, who was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people last year, doesn’t shy away from making her political views known. Rapinoe is one of the leading voices in the USWNT’s ongoing legal battle for pay equity and a frequent outspoken critic of former president Trump.
One issue Rapinoe hasn’t been that vocal about is her teammate Solo’s own hot-headed past – in 2014 Solo was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor assault offenses against her sister and nephew. The charges were dismissed by a judge a year later but remained a blot on Solo’s gold medalist reputation. In 2016, Solo was suspended from USWNT play for six months and her contract was terminated for misconduct after she called the Swedish National Team a “bunch of cowards” during a shootout at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.