Megan Rapinoe called the Washington Spirit’s decision to play the national anthem while players were in the locker room “f***ing unbelievable.”
In an attempt to prevent Rapinoe from “hijacking our organization’s event,” as worded in a statement, Spirit owner Bill Lynch decided to have the anthem play with players from the Spirit and Seattle Reign FC in their respective locker rooms to preemptively prevent Rapinoe from kneeling during the anthem.
After the match, Rapinoe was direct in her frustration.
“It’s f***ing unbelievable,” she said, via the Washington Post’s Steve Goff. “Saddened by it.
“It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event.”
Rapinoe also reportedly called Lynch “homophobic.”
Rapinoe on Spirit's perceived lack of solidarity with gay community, whether that had anything to do with tonight pic.twitter.com/yNAGwAsA7W
— Caitlin Buckley (@caitlinbuckley2) September 8, 2016
Lynch said in a statement that he “has lost personal friends during overseas conflicts and has other close friends who have also lost loved ones. Playing the national anthem prior to sports events became standard during World War II and was a way to express the team’s and fan’s patriotism and show support for the U.S. Military.”
The statement continued: “To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves.”
Rapinoe has previously stated that she plans to continue to kneel during national anthems. Seattle next plays on Sunday night – Sept. 11 – at home against the Spirit. Seattle lost 2-1 on Wednesday, leaving the Reign five points back of the fourth and final playoff spot with two games to play.