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'She hates our country': Internet split as Megan Rapinoe to get Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor to 17 recipients including Simone Biles
Megan Rapinoe will receive the award along with another Olympic athlete Simone Biles  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Megan Rapinoe will receive the award along with another Olympic athlete Simone Biles (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden announced on Friday, July 1 that American professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Thursday, July 6. Rapinoe is one of the 17 recipients. The list of recipients includes Olympians, an Academy Award winner, the first American to receive the Covid-19 vaccine outside of trials, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and civil rights, advocates. Biden will also award the medal to several posthumous honorees, including Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Rapinoe will receive the award along with another Olympic athlete Simone Biles. Rapinoe will be the first female soccer player to receive the medal. Rapinoe is the captain of the Reign, a two-time World Cup champion, and an Olympic gold medalist for the United States women’s team. Rapinoe has been a supporter of racial justice, LGBTQIA rights, and gender pay equity. Additionally, Rapinoe is a graduate of the University of Portland and a former Portland Pilots player. According to the statement from US Soccer, Rapinoe, the US Women's National Team forward found out about the honor last week when Biden called her between practice sessions in Denver.


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Rapinoe mistook "The White House" pop up on her screen to be a robocall or some prank. "At that moment I spoke to the President, I was, and still am, totally overwhelmed," Rapinoe said in a statement to CNN, adding that she is thinking of "all the people who I feel deserve a part of this medal." "I am humbled and truly honored to be chosen for this award by President Biden and feel as inspired and motivated as ever to continue this long history of fighting for the freedoms of all people. To quote Emma Lazarus, 'Until we are all free, we are none of us free,'" she added.

Megan Rapinoe's controversies

Rapinoe has not been without controversies. In 2016 when she took a knee during the national anthem to support NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the systemic oppression of people of color in the US. As a result, soccer federation officials issued a new by-law mandating that players “stand and honor the flag,” a decision Rapinoe derided in an interview and called it “a backwards rule. “I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart,” she told Yahoo Sports. “I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.” Since then she did not take part in the national anthem. 

Megan Rapinoe #15 of the U.S. Women's National Team kneels during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem before a match against Thailand on September 15, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

During Tokyo Olympics 2020, Rapinoe engaged in a heated banter with former President Donald Trump. Trump accused the US women’s national team of supporting “woke politics” and “wokeism” after some of the players took the knee ahead of kick-off at Tokyo 2020. Rapinoe won a bronze medal in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, but Trump ruthlessly criticized her by claiming she focused “too much time thinking about radical left politics.” The back-and-forth with Trump started after she said she wouldn’t be visiting the White House, Rapinoe added, “We’re not gonna be invited.” Trump took issue with Rapinoe’s comments, and said she should “finish the job” before she talks. He also said she “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.” Rapinoe has also been a vocal advocate of equal pay for women’s soccer players, who have sued the United States Soccer Federation for pay discrimination.

Rapinoe has been receiving backlash after it was announced she is being awarded the Medal of Freedom. Twitter users started slamming her. Author and Columnist Tim Young wrote, "Is Megan Rapinoe the first person in American history to receive the Medal of Freedom after openly disrespecting the national anthem?" "She got a medal from the country, for hating the country", a user wrote.



"She wants us to do better? Megan Rapinoe deserves the same benefit of the doubt she gives everyone else which is zero", another user wrote. One user wrote, "The standard for the MOF has been lowered over the decades. If u hate America you’re pretty much on the list for consideration. Kaepernick will win the next one I guarantee it." Many social media users were wondering if Rapinoe would accept it in the first place, as one asked: "I would think since according to Megan the USA is an awful place, she would refuse the Medal of Freedom."




Other recipients this year include Dr. Juliet Garcia -- the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president, Gold Star father Khizr Khan, Sandra Lindsay, Fred Gray, Diane Nash, Alan Simpson who repped Rosa Parks, Father Alexander Karloutsos, Wilma Vaught, Denzel Washington,Gabrielle Giffords, Sister Simone Campbell and Raúl Yzaguirre. According to the White House, Biden will present the awards on July 7 at the White House. Biden is a Medal of Freedom honoree himself. Then-president Barack Obama surprised his vice president with the award in 2017.