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Trump: US Women’s Soccer Team ‘Talented’ But Should Stand for National Anthem

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On Monday, US President Donald Trump said he does not believe its appropriate for US soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who is representing the US in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to continue to kneel during her country’s national anthem.

"No. I don’t think so," Trump said in an exclusive Monday interview with The Hill when asked about Rapinoe's protests during the national anthem, also noting that he “loves watching women’s soccer.” 

“They’re really talented,” he added. 

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2016 file photo, from left, San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif. In recent months, Colin Kaepernick has become comfortable with people knowing him as more than a laser-focused football player as he always previously preferred it. Perhaps, through the anthem protest and his emergence as an outspoken activist for minorities, Kaepernick has improved his image in the process. - Sputnik International
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The US national team advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup after defeating Spain 2-1 Monday afternoon. In a video posted by Eight by Eight Magazine on Twitter Monday, Rapinoe can be heard telling an interviewer, “I’m not going to the f**king White House … We’re not going to be invited.”

​Rapinoe, who helped the US women’s team win the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, was the first white and female athlete to take a knee in protest during the national anthem. She did so in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, who was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers when he became the first athlete and NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem before games in 2016 in protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the US.

Rapinoe first took the knee before a game against the Chicago Red Stars in 2016 while playing for Washington State’s Reign FC. At the time, she referred to her act of resistance as a “little nod” to Kaepernick and “everything he’s standing for right now.”

In an essay in June, Rapinoe explained why she took the knee in solidarity with Kaepernick.

“I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member’s body lying dead in the street,” she wrote. “But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache.

“There is no perfect way to protest. I know that nothing I do will take away the pain of those families. But I feel in my heart it is right to continue to kneel during the national anthem, and I will do whatever I can to be part of the solution,” she added. 

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2016 file photo, from left, San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif. In recent months, Colin Kaepernick has become comfortable with people knowing him as more than a laser-focused football player as he always previously preferred it. Perhaps, through the anthem protest and his emergence as an outspoken activist for minorities, Kaepernick has improved his image in the process. - Sputnik International
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After Rapinoe took the knee in 2016, the US Soccer Federation released a statement saying that it expects its players and coaches to “stand and honor the flag while the national anthem is played.” Trump has criticized athletes who kneel during the national anthem, claiming that they are disrespecting the US.

However, Trump also refused to clearly take a side on whether female soccer players should be paid equally to men.

"I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics," Trump said. "I mean who draws more, where is the money coming in. I know that when you have the great stars like [Portugal’s Cristiano] Ronaldo and some of these stars … that get paid a lot of money, but they draw hundreds of thousands of people."

"But I haven’t taken a position on that at all," he added during the interview. "I’d have to look at it."

In March, all 28 members of the US Women’s National Soccer Team sued the US Soccer Federation, claiming that the body has participated in “institutionalized gender discrimination” and has violated the Equal Pay Act.

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