US women’s team refuse to sing national anthem as seven players stay silent ahead of Portugal game

The sound of silence went head-to-head with the Star-Spangled Banner at Eden Park ahead of the match between Portugal and the US - US women’s team refuse to sing national anthem as seven players stay silent ahead of Portugal game

The sound of silence went head-to-head with the Star-Spangled Banner at Eden Park ahead of the match between Portugal and the US – Getty Images/Phil Walter

The United States women’s team continued their ‘silent’ protest of the national anthem before their Women’s World Cup match against Portugal as at least seven players refused to sing.

It was the third match in succession where some players had elected against singing the Star-Spangled Banner, though it remains unclear why a significant proportion of them are choosing to stay silent.

Several players did not sing before the games against Vietnam and the Netherlands (see below), which has become one of the biggest talking points at this year’s World Cup, and it drew harsh criticism from the US and accusations of “embarrassing” and “disrespectful”.

Yet despite being targeted for not singing, eight of the starting XI stayed tight-lipped on Tuesday morning, with only three players choosing to sing the national anthem.

Captain Lindsey Horan and forward Alex Morgan were both seen singing the anthem, while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher placed her hand across her chest as is customary during the American national anthem.

But the majority of the starting line up elected to stay silent once more, which is likely to trigger further criticism of their actions in New Zealand.

The players have elected not to explain why they have decided not to sing the anthem before match. Defender Naomi Girma had brushed off the criticism in the build-up to their second group game but declined to say what the players were protesting. “I think when we’re out there we’re preparing for the game, and that isn’t the focus,” Girma said last week. “So ultimately, every player has the choice.”

Protests by players around the anthem date back to 2016, when outspoken player Megan Rapinoe was inspired to take a knee after American football player Colin Kaepernick did the same to highlight racial inequality and police brutality in the US.

The following year, US Soccer introduced a policy that players could not kneel during the anthem but this was repealed in February 2021 before the match later that year against Australia at the Olympics where all but one player took a knee.

Rapinoe said before the last World Cup in France in 2019: “I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again. I feel like it’s kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it.”

The women’s team were in a long-running dispute with US Soccer until February last year, when their equal pay lawsuit against the federation was settled for $24 million (£19 million).

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