Former US women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo has launched a withering attack on star player Megan Rapinoe, claiming she’s seen the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner ‘bully players’ into taking the knee.
Rapinoe has been a vocal advocate for equal pay and other social issues in recent years, including LGBTQ rights, while she has also sparred with Donald Trump on Twitter.
The 36-year-old has also been a supporter of the taking the knee movement as players have thrown their weight behind the campaign against racial injustice around the world.
Former US women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo has claimed she’s seen Megan Rapinoe ‘bully players’ into taking the knee
Former goalkeeper Solo says Rapinoe persuades others to take the knee because she ‘really wants to stand up for something in her particular way’
But the decision by the US women’s team to shine a light on those issues once again came in for criticism during the recent Tokyo Olympics, at which the Americans won the bronze medal.
Donald Trump was among those criticising them, calling them ‘leftist maniacs’ and ‘wokesters’ after their underwhelming performance in Japan. He also took aim at Rapinoe, referring to her as the ‘woman with the purple hair.’
In addition to protesting racism, Rapinoe and many of her teammates have pushed for equal pay with their male counterparts and preemptively refused to visit the Trump White House to celebrate their 2019 World Cup win.
Rapinoe (left), Lloyd (right), and the rest of the women’s soccer team have repeatedly drawn the ire of conservatives in recent months because of their outspoken activism
But now Solo, who made over 200 appearances in goal for the US women’s team, has claimed Rapinoe forces her team-mates to join her in protesting these issues, including taking the knee.
‘It’s tough,’ Solo said in an interview with Goal.
‘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 whatever way we’re comfortable with and 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 and ultimately at the end of the day our number one focus should and has always been to win first.’
Earlier this month, Rapinoe fired back at the US team’s critics after their humiliating semi-final loss to Canada was celebrated by American conservatives, who claimed they missed out on gold because of their ‘woke politics’.
The US women’s team went into the Olympics as the favourites for gold but suffered a shock defeat by Canada, leaving them with the bronze medal after beating Australia.
Former President Trump insisted the squad would have claimed gold, if not for their ‘woke’, ‘leftist’ ideologies.
‘If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of Leftist Maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the Gold Medal instead of the Bronze,’ he said in the statement released through his Save America 45 PAC.
The US team were slammed by American conservatives after their semi-final defeat by Canada
Former President Donald Trump issued a statement about the team’s bronze-medal finish, insisting they ‘would have won gold’ if they weren’t ‘woke’
‘Woke means you lose, everything that is woke goes bad, and our soccer team certainly has.
‘There were, however, a few Patriots standing. Unfortunately, they need more than that respecting our Country and National Anthem. They should replace the wokesters with Patriots and start winning again.’
Rapinoe did take aim at critics who have suggested that they didn’t work hard enough to win the gold medal.
‘We have been very successful for a long time, but it’s not like we just go out there and kick back and just crush every [game]. This is hard, it’s really hard!’ she said.
The soccer star, who is engaged to US women’s basketball player Sue Bird, added that the team did their utmost to defend its Olympic title, saying: ‘You come, you play the game, you want to win, you want to win every game, you want to win.’