The United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) entered the pitch ahead of their game with the Netherlands wearing jackets that read “Black Lives Matter.” The team had issued a statement on social media that generated a lot of attention because it enraged people who see the Black Lives Matter movement as a political agenda rather than a civil rights campaign to end police brutality and racial injustice in America.
“We wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency,” USWNT tweeted, prior to their match against the Netherlands. “We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for Black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team.”
In a later tweet, the team affirmed that their statement was “not political, it’s a statement on human rights.”
Team USA beat the Netherlands 2-0. Several members of Team USA knelt during the playing of the national anthem before the game.
Megan Rapinoe, the team’s captain, has been vocal in her support for human rights. She was one of the first professional athletes to join former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans. Despite Megan’s pro-human rights stance, the United States Soccer Federation has been hesitant to embrace its players kneeling during the anthem to protest it.
The US Soccer Federation attempted to ban players from kneeling next. They quickly recognized that they were unable to compel athletes to do anything, and the order was revoked as millions of Americans poured onto the streets to condemn the violent police shootings of unarmed Black individuals, including Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
Last July, shortly after the assassination of Officer Wilson, Rapinoe sat down for an interview with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and why it was so critical for America to embrace it.
“I think people are really getting it,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Got it. We can’t say all lives matter anymore because the all lives house isn’t on fire right now; it’s just the black lives right now.’”
Rapinoe believes there’s been a shift in the American public over the last four years, as they’ve learned that people “have a lot more power than they’ve been told.”
Shortly before the World Cup began, Rapinoe blasted the gender pay gap.
“Men are so often paid and compensated on the potential that they show, not necessarily what they’ve done,” Rapinoe stated. “And women are so often paid on what they’ve actually done — which normally I would say, we outperform what our contract was.”
She continued, “The amount of money that [the women’s team players] could possibly earn in our contract — compared to the amount of money that the men could possibly earn in the contract — is very different. We’ve been very successful … and to get paid about the same dollar-for-dollar amount [as the men] — that’s sort of at the heart of pay inequity and gender discrimination.”