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U.S. Women's National Team players stand for national anthem ahead of win over Brazil

The entire U.S. Women's National Team team stood for the national anthem ahead of their 2-0 victory against Brazil on Sunday, after months of some players kneeling during the anthem. 

Prior to their win in the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, the team decided to stand collectively for "The Star Spangled Banner," including star Megan Rapinoe, who began kneeling in 2016 and was one of free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's early supporters. Since the protests over the racial justice that erupted after George Floyd's death last year, some team members had been kneeling – until Sunday.  

2021 SheBelieves Cup - United States v Brazil
United States backup players, including Megan Rapinoe (L), stand for the United States National anthem against Brazil prior to the SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium on February 21, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Alex Menendez / Getty Images

Defender Cystal Dunn, who is Black, said the decision to stand was a "matter of time." 

"I think those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism, and I think we decided that moving forward we no longer feel the need to kneel," Dunn said. "Because we are doing the work behind the scenes, we are combating systemic racism."

"We never felt like we were going to kneel forever," Dunn added. "So, there was always going to be a time that we felt it was time to stand ... And it was just a game that we felt we were ready to move into the next phase and just continuously fight for change." 

She said there wasn't a vote, but rather feeling "comfortable" as a team in their efforts off the field to combat systemic racism and turning the protests into action.

"I do think moving forward, we're prepared to just continue working off the field, and continuously having these conversations," she said. "And even though we are choosing to stand, it doesn't mean that the conversations go away or they stop. It's all to say that we are now, I think, ready to move past the protesting phase and actually move into putting all of the talk into actual work." 

POST-MATCH REACTION: Crystal Dunn | USWNT vs. Brazil | 02-21-21 by U.S. Soccer on YouTube

Last week, English Premier League star Wilfried Zaha, who is also Black, called out the act of kneeling protests last week and wants to see action, instead of being used to "tick boxes." 

"The whole kneeling down, why must I kneel down for you to show that we matter," the Crystal Palace forward  said on Thursday. "Why must I even wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my top to show you that we matter? This is all degrading stuff."

The reigning women's World Cup champions have been outspoken about injustices in society and their own sport. In December, they reached an agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation to address parts of their gender discrimination lawsuit pertaining to unequal working conditions compared to their male counterparts. U.S. Soccer's board of directors also voted to repeal a 2017 policy that required national team players to stand during the national anthem, a rule adopted after Rapinoe kneeled in support of Kaepernick.

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