Carli Lloyd called Megan Rapinoe’s racial justice protests “distracting” to the U.S. women’s national team.
The former USWNT star also defended her own decision not to kneel alongside her teammates at the bronze-medal match of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, saying she “had enough of kneeling” in a new interview with “Kickin’ It” on CBS Sports.
In 2016, Rapinoe became one of the first athletes to join then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. At the time, Lloyd described Rapinoe’s choice as a “distraction,” and distance has not changed her perspective.
“I had conversations with Megan — like, this isn’t a personal thing. What she’s doing, it was distracting our team, it was distracting others to play,” Lloyd told CBS Sports. “And I was a captain at that time as well, so I said to her, ‘It’s not to dampen what you’re trying to achieve with it.’ It just became, everything was focused on Megan kneeling and nobody was talking about the reasoning why, is what I was trying to get at.
“And so I had conversations with Megan during that. And every game we rolled up to, it was the camera to her, but no one’s talking about actually what the messaging was about, it was just, she’s kneeling and no one else is kneeling.”
Lloyd also discussed her choice not to kneel before kickoff at the bronze-medal match at the Tokyo Olympics. Every other USWNT player took a knee to protest racism.
“In that moment, we were kneeling — it was right before kickoff, so it wasn’t necessarily like a a protest per se, but I guess everybody in the English Premier league was just taking a knee before kickoff. So we had done it every game, and I knew that was going to be my last world championship game, so I wanted to stand,” Lloyd said. “I had kneeled all the other times.”
She insisted that no other thought went into the decision than her desire to stand for her final match at an international tournament. And if given the chance, she “probably” would do it again.
“I’m sure, because I was the only one standing and everybody else was kneeling,” she said, when asked if if she believed her decision had communicated a different message to observers. “I just thought that, we had done enough of the kneeling, and I just wanted to stand at my last world championship game.”
CBS Sports analyst and former USMNT player Maurice Edu shared with Lloyd his disappointment over her decision not to kneel, and while she said she respected his opinion, she also pushed back.
“I’m in support of change, of actionable change, and I just felt like it was just a thing to do,” she said. “It was just beginning to feel like a thing to do.”