Claims that members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) “disrespected” a war veteran by not looking at him or “turned their backs on the U.S. flag” during the national anthem at their Olympic send-off match on July 6 are misleading. Footage of the event shows that, while some of the players were not looking directly at the veteran, they were turning to face the U.S. flag displayed at one end of the stadium.
Posts with such allegations can be seen on Facebook here here well as on prominent Twitter accounts ( archive.ph/wip/XhwND, archive.ph/zgx4A).
Prior to the start of the game at the Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford Connecticut, where the USWNT defeated Mexico 4-0 ( here ), 98-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré played the national anthem on his harmonica ( here ).
As seen in the initial frames in footage here, five players appear to be facing DuPre, while six others are facing away to the side – but this was because both the U.S. and Mexican flags were displayed at one end of the stadium, behind a scoreboard. This can also be seen in USWNT footage here here.
While some players chose to face the veteran playing the national anthem, others chose to face the flag.
Some members of the audience in the stadium can also be seen facing towards different directions (see timestamp 00:28, here).
The U.S. Soccer Federation disputed the accusation that the players were disrespecting DuPre on Twitter, ( here ) saying: “Some USWNT players were simply looking at the flag on a pole in one end of the stadium.”
“The players all love Pete, thanked him individually after the game and signed a ball for him.” A video of this moment can be seen here.
As pointed out by CNN reporter Daniel Dale here, some USWNT players had also previously met DuPré and several servicemen in January, when they played France in an international friendly match ( here ).
Carli Lloyd also responded on Twitter ( here ). “We turned because we faced the flag.”
False. Members of the USWNT who were not facing the war veteran performing the national anthem turned around to face the U.S. flag displayed at one end of the stadium.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
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