Megan Rapinoe Slams Head Coach Over National Anthem
The presence of USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, both on and off the pitch, is significant. Recipient of the 2019 Ballon d’Or Féminin, and the only American soccer player to win the award, Rapinoe has been an indispensable asset for the USWNT. But Megan’s success has not been a tale that takes place only on the soccer field. Whenever it mattered the most, Rapinoe used her platform to come forth to take a stand for her fellow athletes.
But as most protests go, Megan’s actions also faced backlash. Not only did she have to fend off the negativity her actions attracted from the outside, but she also had to face opposition from within her team. The biggest example of which came from former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis.
The pink-haired soccer maestro Megan Rapinoe has been one of the most influential athletes in recent times. Captain of Seattle-based OL Reign, Rapinoe has always led by example in every walk of life. She was a prominent figure in the USWNT’s fight for equal pay, bringing about a revolutionary change. Megan also demonstrated solidarity with fellow athlete Colin Kaepernick by kneeling in a silent protest while the national anthem played during a match.
But the head coach, Jill Ellis, did not welcome the show of support and later subbed the winger off. But things did not stop there. Rapinoe did not play the next two matches and was also told not to even dress up for the games. A few days later, Rapinoe received a call from Ellis where she was informed she would not be going to the SheBelieves cup either. As a result, the relationship between the coach and the player deteriorated.
Recalling the chain of events, Megan expressed her true feelings in her memoir, ‘One Life.’ She wrote, “It was so dysfunctional, so dishonest, such utter, evasive bullsh*t, that my interactions with Jill became strained.” The ace winger had to miss out on many matches because of the same.
The events that followed
Things went from bad to worse for Rapinoe. Not only was she not a member of the SheBelieves cup squad, but Megan also could not even train with the group. After initially receiving a supportive “OK” from her coach in favor of kneeling, the two found themselves on the opposite ends of a spectrum.
Days after Megan’s act, US Soccer published an article that indirectly condemned Rapinoe’s protest. In 2017, US Soccer banned the kneeling of national team players while the national anthem played. But the policy was later taken back as the governing body issued an apology for the same. Later in the year, Rapinoe rejoined Ellis in the national team and acted as if nothing had happened. Megan also wrote, “I might have been superficially cordial, my vibe said something else: essentially, f**k you.”
Under Ellis, the USWNT won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, after which she retired. Ellis won the award for the best FIFA women’s coach award, while Rapinoe won the best FIFA player of the year. While Rapinoe knew of Jill’s actions, the two remained civil in their acceptance speeches.