Rapinoe accused of "poisoning" USWNT in "shameful" national anthem controversy

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Megan Rapinoe has been accused of
Megan Rapinoe has been accused of 'poisoning' the USWNT amid national anthem controversy as they scraped through to the World Cup knockout stages (Image: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Football star Megan Rapinoe has been accused of 'poisoning' the USWNT team amid the national anthem controversy.

The team scraped through to the knockout stages of the World Cup by securing a 0-0 draw against Portugal. They ended the group stage with just five points and had Portugal not hit the post in the 91st minute of their encounter, the two-time defending champions may have suffered a shock early exit.

Questions have been raised about the team’s performances and journalist and presenter Megyn Kelly has blasted Rapinoe for the culture of the squad and lack of players singing the 'Star Spangled Banner' before the games.

“Megan Rapinoe, she's the leader of all this. She's not a starter. So that's why she's not on camera when they're doing the national anthem, but she's behind a lot of this,” the reporter said on the self-titled Megyn Kelly Show.

“She's poisoned the entire team against the country for which they play. I don't know about you, but I'm not rooting for them. I'm not with them. I hope they lose. It's shameful. These girls are shameful. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

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In the past, American athletes have chosen not to sing the national anthem as a form of protest against injustices such as police brutality and racial inequality. Rapinoe was one of those who knelt during the national anthem in 2016 and explained her reasons for doing so.

"I can understand if you think that I'm disrespecting the flag by kneeling, but it is because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way,” she said.

“When I take a knee, I am facing the flag with my full body, staring straight into the heart of our country's ultimate symbol of freedom — because I believe it is my responsibility, just as it is yours, to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country."

Few players sang the US national anthem before the Vietnam and Netherlands games at the World Cup and just Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan could be seen singing before their final group game against Portugal.

Kelly was left fuming by what she saw and claimed the players are not expressing enough pride in playing for their country. “They won't put their hands on their hearts,” she went on. “They don't feel prideful when they're out there even though they're representing the United States of America.

Rapinoe accused of "poisoning" USWNT in "shameful" national anthem controversyJournalist Megyn Kelly had some strong words for Rapinoe on YouTube show (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Fortune)

“Yes, we've got some flaws. Yes, there have been some warts, but we’re so much more good than we are bad. I mean, they look like they don't even want to be there. It's like some sort of inconvenience to be representing the USA.” Kelly was further agitated by the team’s response to the draw and almost being sent home.

The team was full of smiles and looked to be in a positive mood, and the likes of Morgan and Trinity Rodman were seen taking pictures with fans. Given the somewhat subpar performances of a team who have not tasted defeat in a knockout game of the World Cup since 2011, Kelly was not impressed with their reaction to their recent form. “These morons on the women's soccer team continue to embarrass us on the national stage,” she added.

“They got to a 0-0 tie with Portugal. They've only scored four goals in three games. It's the first time ever, that the women's team does not have at least two wins at this stage of the competition. And yet they're celebrating out there like they've just won the whole thing.” It will not get any easier for the US and they face Sweden in the round of 16 on Sunday. They won each of their group games and only conceded one goal, and they will not be afraid of the two-time defending champions.

Liam Llewellyn

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