Seattle Reign and United States national team player Megan Rapinoe made headlines last week when she kneeled during the national anthem before an NWSL match against the Chicago Red Stars, and now her local club is standing behind her right to protest.
Rapinoe knelt in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others around the NFL as a peaceful protest against injustice in the United States.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties," Rapinoe said last week. "It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it."
The Reign released a statement on Wednesday supporting Rapinoe's decision but also acknowledging her display may have been offensive to some fans.
"We recognize Megan’s decision was offensive to some and a source of inspiration to others," the statement reads. "We empathize with those offended, as we understand that the playing of the national anthem is one of our nation’s most revered public celebrations, honoring the sacrifices that have been made — and continue to be made — by those serving in our armed forces.
"At the same time, we see many inspired by Megan’s decision, as the courage she exhibited by acting on her beliefs empowers others to take action as well. We will continue to encourage all Reign FC players to participate in the pre-match ceremony, which honors those who have served and made sacrifices on our behalf.
"We will also continue to allow players to participate in the pre-match ceremony in a manner consistent with their personal beliefs, reflecting our respect for the rights earned and defended by those fighting for our nation. And we will continue to support Megan in her efforts to make a positive impact on our country, encouraging her to do so in a way that provokes needed conversation about serious issues, in a manner consistent with the values of our organization."
Rapinoe also said recently that she will kneel during the national anthem during the USWNT's upcoming game against Thailand on Sept. 15 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, if she's selected to the roster.
The Reign return to action on Wednesday night against the Washington Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex.