U.S. women’s soccer team captain Megan Rapinoe said this weekend that the media needs to “get better” with their criticism of women’s athletics, adding that she “always welcome[s] the criticism.”
Team USA was heavily criticized after being shutout by Sweden 3-0 in their Olympic opener on Wednesday. Notably, Americans online blasted the team for protesting alleged rampant racism in the U.S. in solidarity with radical leftist group Black Lives Matter before kickoff by taking a knee.
“I know what it is,” Rapinoe said of the criticism, according to Yahoo! Sports. “I’m on social media. I’m not a hermit.”
“I always welcome the criticism,” the forward added. “For women’s sports, criticism in the media still needs to get better.”
The criticism, Rapinoe continued, “says to me that people are watching the games and understand the importance of games and understand different teams. I don’t mind that stuff. I think everything they said was right. We didn’t play well. Sweden did get the better of us.”
“Being in a position where all of my career we are one of the best teams or the best team in the world, if you can’t take that kind of criticism, then you are probably not going to be here that long,” she added
In other discussions with the press, Rapinoe stood by the team’s kneeling protest at the Olympics.
“It’s an opportunity for us to continue to use our voices and use our platforms to talk about the things that affect all of us intimately in different ways,” Rapinoe said following the Wednesday game, according to The Associated Press.
“We have people from Team USA, from all over the country, from all backgrounds, and people literally from all over the world for every other team so I obviously encourage everyone to use that platform to the best of their ability to do the most good that they possibly can in the world, especially as all eyes are on Tokyo these next couple weeks,” she continued.
“We’re on the global stage, with the world’s media, and eyeballs and people’s attention, all drawn to one place with a collection of incredible athletes from all over the world, who care a lot about what they’re doing here in Tokyo in terms of their sport, and who care a lot about a lot of other things.”
Last November, members of the soccer team notably wore Black Lives Matter jerseys and kneeled for the national anthem in the Netherlands, again sparking widespread criticism. The Daily Wire reported on the protest:
“We love our country, and it is a true honor to represent America. It is also our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms that our country was founded on extend to everyone,” read a statement that members of the team posted on social media before the game, which ended in a 2-0 defeat against the Netherlands.
“Today, we wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for Black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team,” the statement continued.
“As the United States Women’s National team players, we collectively work toward a society where the American ideals are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systematically targeted.”
“Black Lives Matter,” the statement concluded.
The women’s team rallied against New Zealand on Saturday with an impressive 6-1 win.