American women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the U.S. national anthem at a Sunday match, calling it a deliberate move to support NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who stoked controversy by flouting the tradition of standing during the song.
"It was very intentional," Rapinoe told American Soccer Now following a match in Illinois between the Chicago Red Stars and her own team, the Seattle Reign.
"It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now."
Kaepernick, a San Francisco 49er quarterback, on Thursday carried on with his protest against racial injustice and police brutality before his team's Thursday game against the San Diego Chargers, by refusing to stand during The Star Spangles Banner.
A week earlier the athlete raised the ire of many fans when he remained seated through the anthem before his team's game against the Green Bay Packers.
Many Americans saw his gesture as a sign of disrespect to the flag and criticism was widespread, but Kaepernick has also been supported by some fellow players -- and now by Rapinoe.
"I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t," Rapinoe said.
"Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties," she added.
Rapinoe said that while her gesture was "something small," she planned to continue doing it to "spark some meaningful conversation."
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)