The United States Women’s Soccer players that turned away from the national anthem ahead of a game against Mexico were not protesting, and were turning to face the flag, a representative told the Daily Caller.
In the clip posted Monday on Twitter, we see 98-year-old veteran Pete DuPré grab his hat and tip it towards the crowd before grabbing his harmonica and playing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Players from the U.S. team stood on one side of the performance and the Mexico team stood on the other at Pratt [and] Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, ESPN reported. (RELATED: Watch As Patriotic Americans Belt Out The National Anthem In The Middle Of Walmart)
After the song began, the camera pans over to one side and we see some members of the U.S. team turned away as the vet played the anthem. (RELATED: US Olympian Turns Away From Flag, Covers Her Head With T-Shirt During National Anthem)
“Some of the players were simply looking at the flag flowing on a pole in the stadium in that direction. They were not looking away from Pete as he played the national anthem,” U.S. Soccer Federation Chief Communications Officer Neil Buethe told the Daily Caller.
— ESPN (@espn) July 5, 2021
The split direction of the team caused outrage on Twitter as multiple media personalities speculated that those who turned away from DuPré were protesting the national anthem.
Every woman on the Mexican Soccer Team faced the flag & sang the Mexican National anthem.
Several woman on the U.S. Soccer team turned away from the US flag – while a 92 year old Veteran played the anthem on a harmonica.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 5, 2021
Ahead of the Olympic send-off match versus Mexico, members of the US women’s soccer team (@USWNT) turned their backs as 98-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré played the national anthem. https://t.co/TqlKuGfpB8
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 6, 2021
The official Twitter account of the U.S. Women’s National Team later posted their own recording of the game opening, thanking DuPré for his performance. An additional video was uploaded showing the players greeting and signing a soccer ball for DuPré.
Thank you, Pete! ????????❤️ pic.twitter.com/BL7kgHbLfg
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 5, 2021
Correction: A previous version of this article reported the players turned away from DuPré as he was playing the national anthem. The US Soccer Federation later clarified the players were turning to face the American flag. The piece has been updated to reflect this information.