The Washington Spirit soccer team changed its pregame routine Wednesday night to keep Seattle Reign's Megan Rapinoe from kneeling during the National Anthem.
With the players still in the locker room, the Spirit played the national anthem ahead of schedule.
Rapinoe talked with the Washington Post after the match and said she was saddened by what happened.
"It was incredibly distasteful, 4 days before 1 of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event," Rapinoe told Steven Goff, reporter for the Washington Post. "Obviously there is some negative going on, but I am not rolling through the trolls. Keep it positive."
Rapinoe: "It was incredibly distasteful, 4 days before 1 of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event."— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) September 8, 2016
The Spirit put out a statement shortly before kickoff:
“In light of Seattle Reign and U.S. Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe’s public declaration that she intended to ‘take a knee’ during the United States’ National Anthem tonight, we decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent.”
In the statement, Spirit owner Bill Lynch says he has lost personal friends during overseas conflicts.
Washington Spirit prevents Megan Rapinoe taking a knee during national anthem by playing anthem ahead of schedule. pic.twitter.com/Oc54ljhFe1— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 8, 2016
Rapinoe knelt on one knee during the national anthem on Sunday. She said it was in support of 49ers quarterrback Colin Kaepernick. He told NFL Media that he refused to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”
After Sunday's match, Rapinoe told American Soccer Now, "It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he's standing for right now. I think it's actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn't. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.
"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."
Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane didn't stand for the anthem before the Seahawks' final preseason game against the Raiders. Other Seahawks, including Doug Baldwin say they are considering sitting during the season opener.
Copyright 2016 KING