OPINION | This article contains opinion that reflects the author's views.
In a bombshell statement, former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said Megan Rapinoe would bully others to comply with her left-wing activism.
Rapinoe, an outspoken liberal, would pressure her teammates into kneeling before games, Solo alleged.
Rapinoe used her position on the U.S. women’s Olympic soccer team to advance her left-wing agenda.
She has become an extremely polarizing figure. Rather than focusing on soccer, she uses the field as a backdrop for her left-wing protests.
Solo said, “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.”
“I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive,” she continued. “I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way.”
“I think that’s really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes, there’s a lot of pressure,” she added.
The U.S. women’s soccer team has become more widely recognized for its pregame political posturing than for its dominance on the field.
In fact, the team recently suffered devastating losses in the Tokyo Olympics, which ended their 44-game winning streak.
U.S. came into the Tokyo Games ranked number one before losing. Reports circulated online that all 22 players on Team USA took a knee to support Black Lives Matter before the game. This protest during the National Anthem has sparked debates and remains a point of contention among U.S. fans.
Megan Rapinoe, known as a vocal supporter of Democrats and left-wing views, described their loss by saying the following: “We got our a***s kicked, didn’t we? I thought we were a little tight, a little nervous, just doing dumb stuff.”
Now Rapinoe told ESPN that “she doesn’t know what her playing future looks like and she will ‘need to take some time to think about it,’” the report said.
Rapinoe and several of her teammates on the women’s national team have adopted the practice of kneeling during the national anthem when it is played before games as a form of political protest. She and others have also been outspoken on a number of other issues, including equal pay for female athletes.
Until now, there haven’t been any reports of forced kneeling or backlash against those who chose not to join in the protest, though it’s true that a large majority of players have knelt when permitted. Solo appeared to indicate that at least some form of pressure to conform was present.
The team’s brash activism has drawn scrutiny from many fans. During the Tokyo Olympics last month, fellow Americans admitted they rooted against the team during the tournament and actually cheered their semifinal loss to Canada.
Solo has not been a member of the team since 2016, but she and Rapinoe played together for 10 years prior to that, beginning in 2006. The pair won a World Cup and two Olympic gold medals together in that span.
The goalkeeper ended up withdrawing from the team and retiring after off-field incidents damaged her reputation. Solo was arrested in 2014 and charged with assaulting two of her family members. Then in 2016, she was suspended by the U.S. national team after calling the Swedish national team a “bunch of cowards” following a face-off in the Olympics.
When asked about calling it quits, Rapinoe said, “Just in terms of my whole career, I don’t really know yet. I need to take some time to think about it.”
“They always say, ‘You’ll know when you know,’ but it’s not really like that, because you could kind of keep going, and it’s like ‘Aw yeah, you’ve accomplished so much, you’ll be fine stepping away,’” the 36-year-old elaborated. “But the conversation is always anguished in your mind. Or people just don’t think about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.”
“I feel like people just think: play as long as you can, and that’s amazing — you want to play forever — but it’s actually like, no, it is really hard to do that,” Rapinoe said of Lloyd. “There are so few athletes who play to her age or play as long as she has. It’s not just about staying healthy and being able to physically be there, which is difficult in and of itself.”
“It’s about continually growing and making sure your game is evolving. For me, it’s the fact she ended her career with an incredible brace in a medal match at the Olympics — just says it all. That’s the sort of person Carli was,” she continued. “As productive as ever.”
“She has so many appearances, so many goals. So many memorable goals as well. It’s all good and well to score five goals against teams that don’t really matter, but I think Aaron Heifetz, our media relations guy, said that every medal match Carli played in she scored a goal. That’s greatness,” Rapinoe praised her teammate. “She’s unbelievable. Showing up in the biggest moments, that’s what you want from your biggest players.”