When it comes to political protest, this athlete thinks it should be a decision one makes solo.
During an appearance on the All of Us: The U.S. Women's Soccer Show podcast on Aug. 10, former U.S. women's national soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo called out teammate Megan Rapinoe for allegedly pressuring players to kneel during the national anthem, a symbol of protest against police brutality and racial injustice. The two women played together on the team from 2006 through 2016.
In 2016, then–San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick famously started the #TakeAKnee movement when he sat during the "Star Spangled Banner" before a game. Said Solo, "I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive. I do appreciate the fact that there's no national anthem right before the game to really remove that decision from athletes because that's very tough," Solo said before alleging, "I've seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way."
E! News has reached out to Rapinoe for comment, but has not yet heard back. Rapinoe was first photographed kneeling at a game in September 2016, a month after Solo's national team contract was terminated.
According to Solo, taking a stance on something should be a personal decision for athletes. "It's our right as Americans to do it in whatever way we're comfortable with," she said. "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."
From her point of view, politics issues can overshadow what she considers to be their main objective. "Ultimately, at the end of the day, our No. 1 focus should and has always been to win first," the athlete said. Citing the youth advocacy efforts of LeBron James as an example, she added, "We're carrying the world on our back these days—a lot of athletes are."
But, when it comes to equal pay—an issue she's been a prominent champion of—taking a stance seems to her like a no-brainer. "The most important thing for this team is that they stand up for what's federal law here in the United States," she said. "Federal law in the United States stands for the Equal Pay Act since 1962 [sic] during John F. Kennedy days and we still don't have equal pay here in the United States."
"For me, she continued, "that's something that that shouldn't be divisive. We're fighting for something that's been policy for over 60 years."