USWNT star Megan Rapinoe described the uprising in the US Capitol last week as “very worrying and frightening”.
Rapinoe spoke to reporters for the first time on Tuesday since a mob backing President Donald J. Trump stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol. The violent uprising resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer.
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“I think the courage of lawmakers to get back on track and get on with their work, and the utter bottomlessness of some of those lawmakers to continue inciting violence and still calling for the election to be repealed when the mandate is given by the United States and the people it’s just absolutely insane in the United States, “said Rapinoe, who joined the USWNT team at their January camp after almost a year off.
“You should be held accountable.”
Throughout her career, Rapinoe has been an advocate for equal pay and other social justice issues, including LGBTQ rights. She caught up with Trump on Twitter during the World Cup and was involved in voting initiatives in support of President-elect Joe Biden last year.
She got emotional when asked how she felt when other NWSL players kneeled and spoke out against systemic racism during the Challenge Cup. In 2016, Rapinoe knelt in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. U.S. football responded by banning players from kneeling during the anthem, a rule that was lifted last June.
“I am very proud and respectful of so many people who are making the journey, learning and growing and feeling more comfortable talking about things,” she said. “What we saw with the protests in the summer and only through the pandemic will hopefully open a lot of eyes, especially my white teammates.”
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The 35-year-old Rapinoe last played for the national team on March 11th when she beat Japan 3-1 in the SheBelieves Cup. She told reporters she was happy to be back in football.
“I feel really good physically and have refreshed myself mentally and emotionally in so many ways. I obviously spent a lot of time quarantining Sue at home [Bird] and just being able to relax, “said Rapinoe.” But I’m obviously so excited to be playing again. It was really difficult not being on the field with my teammates and not having a uniform training environment. Anyone who really knows me knows that I hate to train as alone as it is. “
When the coronavirus hit the US in March last year and the National Women’s Soccer League broke up its season, Rapinoe – who plays for OL Reign – crouched at home.
She signed out of the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament in a bubble in a bubble in Utah last summer and in the league’s fall series. She has also retired from the national team’s October camp.
She said part of her reasoning for the hiatus was fear of COVID-19, but she was also weary of the whirlwind that came after the U.S. won the World Cup in France. Rapinoe was named Best FIFA Player and Ballon d’Or after her game in the first soccer tournament.
For her career, Rapinoe has scored 52 goals with 68 assists in 168 games for the national team since her first appearance in 2006. She scored a penalty when the USA beat the Netherlands in the 2019 World Cup final.
During her hiatus that summer, she hosted the HBO special “Seeing America,” which included US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and published a memoir called “One Life.” In October, she and WNBA veteran Sue Bird announced their engagement.
Coach Vlatko Andonovski said Rapinoe didn’t neglect her fitness during the layoff. He expects Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, who have not played since last spring due to an injury, will play minutes in two exhibition games against Colombia later this month in Orlando, Florida.
“Megan and Carli did a tremendous job. Our high-performance department, high-performance coaches, oversaw everything they do,” Andonovski said. “We have a pretty good idea of where they stand. In fact, both of them are a little bit ahead of what we expected from a physical standpoint at January camp.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.