Hope Solo Says Teammate Megan Rapinoe Would 'Almost Bully' Team to Kneel During Anthem

Former U.S. Women's National Soccer Team player Hope Solo said her teammate Megan Rapinoe would "almost bully" other team members into kneeling during the national anthem while appearing on a podcast last week.

"I've seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way, but it's our right as Americans to do it in whatever way we're comfortable with," she said while on All of Us: The U.S. Women's Soccer Show last Tuesday.

She described kneeling during the anthem as "divisive."

"I do appreciate the fact that there's no national anthem right before the game to really remove that decision from athletes," she said.

She said being an athlete is difficult right now due to pressure to speak up on political issues and that many athletes feel they are "carrying the world on their back."

Hope Solo
Soccer player Hope Solo said Megan Rapinoe would “almost bully” other teammates to kneel during the national anthem. Here, she is seen at a discussion at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on January 27, 2020. Sam Wasson/Getty Images

"I think that's really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes," she said. "There's a lot of pressure, and ultimately at the end of the day, our number one focus should be and always has been to win first."

She praised women's soccer stars for speaking up for equal pay for women, calling it "the most important thing" and saying it "shouldn't be divisive."

"We're fighting for something that's been policy for over 60 years, and I think that's a very positive thing," she said.

She said she believes most people, regardless of their stance on keeling during the anthem, "stand up against discrimination."

Newsweek reached out to a spokesperson for Rapinoe for comment Monday afternoon but had not heard back by publication. This article will be updated with any response.

Rapinoe has been outspoken in support of women's, LGBTQ+, and racial equality. She was among the athletes to support Colin Kaepernick's protests against police brutality and racism and kneeled during the national anthem before USWNT games in support, Newsweek previously reported.

"Colin Kaepernick never shied away," she said at the opening of the ESPYs ceremony in June 2020. "He knew that discomfort was essential to liberation, and that fighting the oppression against Black people is bigger than sports."

She has also been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump. The two sparred earlier in August during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after he criticized the U.S. women's soccer team.

"It's a real sad dig into an old bag," Rapinoe told reporter Jack Doles in response to Trump's comments. "I'm just like, 'You're rooting for people to do bad?' Yikes."

Solo has also been active in advocating for causes important to her. She and four other female soccer players filed a compliant in 2016 against U.S. Soccer, demanding equal pay for their work, Newsweek previously reported.