The US women’s team’s relationship with the national anthem has become complicated over the years. In the past, some team members have knelt down while the song was playing before the start of a match.
But, when the USWNT lined up on the field before the start of their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup opening match against Vietnam, most of the team rose to their feet during the playing of «Star Spangled Banner,» though most players appeared to remain silent.
The entire opposing team seemed to be singing passionately as Vietnam’s national anthem «Tiến Quân Ca» or «Song of a Marching Army» was played. The players seemed to sing in unison, and the eleven athletes placed their right hands over their hearts.
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Six of the 11 American soccer players who stood on the pitch at Eden Park in New Zealand stood with their hands at their sides or behind their backs as the anthem played.
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The remaining five players clapped their hands over their hearts as the song echoed throughout the stadium.
Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, and Lindsey Horan were seen mouthing the words to the song while the rest of the crew appeared to stand stoically.
A pair of crucial victories in 2022 marked Vietnam’s first berth to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The historic appearance of the newcomers on the game’s biggest stage marked a new chapter in women’s football in Vietnam.
Since its creation in 1997, the Vietnam women’s national team has faced an uphill battle in the struggle to access the same amount of resources that the men’s team traditionally received. In the past, some members of the team would have taken on other jobs due to the low pay they received for playing for the national team.
The Vietnamese women no doubt went into their first World Cup match with a great sense of pride, given what they had accomplished in qualifying for the World Cup, and their passion was on full display as the national anthem played.
However, once the match began, the elite talent of the USNWT team was also on full display. The reigning two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champions defeated Vietnam 3-0 in the team’s historic match. Team USA is once again the favorite to win this year’s title.
American soccer star Megan Rapinoe became one of the first prominent athletes to take a knee during the national anthem in solidarity with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against police brutality and social injustice in 2016.
Kaepernick started the peaceful protest on August 14, 2016, before the start of a preseason game. His gesture didn’t get much attention until the third time he did it before the start of another preseason game on Aug. 26.
Rapinoe is playing in her last World Cup. Earlier this month, Rapinoe said that she will retire from professional soccer at the end of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season.
She has also been outspoken on a long list of social issues throughout her career, including LGBTQ+ rights, racial inequality, voting rights, and gender and pay equality.
In the weeks leading up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Rapinoe declared that she would «never put my hand on my heart» during the performance of the national anthem.
«I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again,» he said at the time.
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During a 2021 match against Australia, only one member of the US women’s soccer team chose not to kneel as the «Star Spangled Banner» played.