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Megan Rapinoe draws the ire of U.S. soccer by kneeling during the anthem before a national team game

Megan Rapinoe draws the ire of U.S. soccer by kneeling during the anthem before a national team game
Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. kneels during the playing of the national anthem before the soccer match against Thailand. (Kyle Robertson / The Columbus Dispatch via Associated Press)

Megan Rapinoe continued her protest against social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem before the U.S. women's soccer game against Thailand on Thursday night.

It was the first time Rapinoe did so as a member of the national team, and U.S. Soccer was not happy about it.

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"In front of national and often global audiences, the playing of our national anthem is an opportunity for our Men's and Women's National Team players and coaches to reflect upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country," U.S. Soccer said in a statement during the game.

"As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played."

Rapinoe told ESPN, which broadcast the game from Columbus, Ohio:  "I'm very proud to pull on this shirt and play for this country, and also represent my country in a different way in speaking out for people that are oppressed."

U.S. Coach Jill Ellis said she discussed the situation with Rapinoe.

"Everything for me, from the day I took over this job, it's about the team," Ellis said. "And if something supersedes the team, that's where I get concerned. And I think that's something I have to reflect on now at this point."

U.S. Soccer did not indicate whether Rapinoe would be sanctioned for her protest.

Rapinoe first took a knee during the anthem Sept. 4 as a member of the Seattle Reign. Her plan to do it again before a game in Washington, D.C., was foiled when the anthem was played before the players took the field. Most recently, she stood arm-in-arm with her Seattle teammates during the anthem on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"As of now I plan to keep kneeling," Rapinoe said. "I'm trying to kind of formulate a better plan and an action step moving forward. But until then, this is how I can help, this is how I can use my voice going forward, and this is how I can be an ally in this space."

Twitter: @chewkiii

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