Why USA Women are not singing the national anthem at World Cup

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The USWNT were criticised by Megyn Kelly after the national anthem controversy at the Women
The USWNT were criticised by Megyn Kelly after the national anthem controversy at the Women's World Cup (Image: Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

The United States Women's National Team (USWNT) have sparked controversy at the Women’s World Cup with some of their players choosing not to sing the country’s national anthem.

Prior to the Group E games against Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Portugal, the majority of the US Women’s National Team opted not to sing The Star-Spangled Banner. Vlatko Andonovski's side went into the competition as reigning champions and finished second in the group to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Ahead of the recent game against Portugal, just three players mumbled along to the anthem, while others stood motionless. Only Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, and Lindsey Horan put their hands on their chest during the playing of the anthem.

It’s worth noting that despite the criticism, some players did choose to sing along to The Star-Spangled Banner. However, the decision from the majority of the team not to sing the US national anthem has led to them being the subject of criticism in their home country.

The reason the players do it is as a form of protest against racial injustice and police violence, with the aim of provoking reflection about the problems in North America. It is not the first time action has been taken, either. In 2016 some players kneeled during the anthem. A the time, Megan Rapinoe explained: "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.

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"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."

Despite their reasons, that didn’t stop journalist Megyn Kelly from delivering harsh criticism of the squad on her SiriusXM podcast. “I really do believe their version of what a feminist is, what it means to be an empowered woman, at least as an American woman, means you need to hate your country,” said Kelly last week.

Why USA Women are not singing the national anthem at World CupSome USWNT players have chosen not to sing the national anthem at the Women's World Cup (Jan Kruger - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

“It means to go out on the national stage and embarrass yourself and your country by not singing the national anthem. For several of them, not even holding their hands over their hearts when the national anthem played, was a bridge too far. They couldn’t be bothered to actually place their hand on their heart as the national anthem played, as they stood out there representing you and me and the country and our military and people who have given their lives for the country that they represent.

“It was too much of an effort [for them] to place their hand over their heart, or God forbid, sing.”

The USWNT will be busy preparing to face Sweden in the round of 16 stage of the World Cup on Sunday. However, the team goes into the game after winning just one of their group games, which came in the 3-0 opener against Vietnam.

After that, Andonovski's were held to draws with the Netherlands and Portugal and came dangerously close to exiting the competition at the group stage. As it is, the team’s chances of winning the World Cup in Australia/New Zealand remain alive.

Mark Wakefield

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