President Donald Trump on Monday said he doesn't think U.S. co-captain Megan Rapinoe should protest during the national anthem.
"No. I don’t think so," Trump told The Hill when asked about Rapinoe's actions. The question came in the wake of the national team's 2-1 knockout-round victory over Spain that lifted the U.S. into the 2019 Women's World Cup quarterfinals.
Rapinoe, who scored on two penalty kicks in Monday's victory, first kneeled during the national anthem in 2016, shortly after then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to protest racial and social injustice in that way.
In response to Rapinoe's kneeling, the U.S. Soccer Federation passed a rule requiring all players and staff to stand during the anthem. Rapinoe now protests by not placing her hand over her heart or singing along when the "The Star Spangled Banner" is played before U.S. games.
"I'll probably never put my hand over my heart," Rapinoe, who calls herself "a walking protest," told Yahoo Sports last month. "I'll probably never sing the national anthem again."
Trump long has been extremely critical of athletes, most notably NFL players such as Kaepernick, who kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem, characterizing them as unpatriotic and ungrateful. Rapinoe, 33, has been just as vocal in her criticism of the president.
Although Trump said he disagreed with Rapinoe's pregame actions, he offered praise for Team USA.
"I love watching women's soccer," he told The Hill in the Oval Office. "They’re really talented."
However, Trump declined to weigh in on whether the women players should receive pay equal to the men, saying only that he would have to look more closely at the issue.
"I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics," Trump said. "I mean, who draws more? Where is the money coming in? I know that when you have the great stars like Ronaldo and some of these stars … that get paid a lot of money, but they draw hundreds of thousands of people."
"But I haven’t taken a position on that at all," he added. "I’d have to look at it."
All 28 players on the U.S. women's team filed a lawsuit in March against the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging discrimination in pay and resources based on gender. The American women are the defending World Cup champions and also won in 1991 and 1999. The U.S. men, in contrast, have never won a World Cup title and didn't qualify for the 2018 tournament.
Per the Hill: Numerous Democrats, including several 2020 presidential candidates, have voiced support for the team's push for equal pay.