Fact check: US women's soccer team did not turn backs on veteran during national anthem

·3 min read

The claim: The U.S. women's soccer team turned away from WWII veteran during national anthem

The U.S. women's soccer team became the center of controversy after online posts claimed some players turned their backs on a veteran playing the national anthem.

The claims surfaced after the United States beat Mexico on July 5 in their final match before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. This comes after hammer thrower Gwen Berry drew widespread criticism for turning away from the flag and placing her T-shirt over her head during the national anthem at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

"SHAMEFUL: Several members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team turned their backs as 98-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré played the National Anthem on his harmonica," one Facebook user wrote on July 5.

The Berry protest was real. But this supposed soccer protest isn't.

Some members of the team are seen in the video facing opposite directions, however, they were looking at a flag located at the end of the stadium, not turning their back on Dupré, as the post claims.

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USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user for comment.

Similar versions of the claim made their way to YouTube, Twitter and the Post Millennial, which later changed its story after the U.S. women's soccer team debunked the claim.

Players were facing the flag

The U.S. women’s national team and U.S. Soccer Federation took to Twitter on July 5 to refute the claims.

"No one turned their back on WWII Veteran Pete DuPré during tonight's anthem," the U.S. Soccer Federation wrote in response to a tweet from former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. "Some USWNT players were simply looking at the flag on a pole in one end of the stadium."

The account for the U.S. women's national soccer team posted a tweet thanking DuPré for his performance, as well as footage of players signing a soccer ball for DuPré and greeting him as they entered the stadium.

"Each and every player waited for their opportunity to come up to Pete post-game before getting on the bus, said hello, thanked him and signed his ball," communications for the U.S. Soccer Federation tweeted.

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Carli Lloyd, a forward on the national team, also noted on Twitter that they turned to face the flag, not away from DuPré.

An image of the arena shared to Facebook by Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field shows an American flag is located next to the scoreboard, where some of the players were facing.

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According to the U.S. Soccer Federation, Dupré met with USWNT players in Normandy when the team traveled to France in January 2019 and has a "unique tie with the U.S. Women."

Our rating: False

The claim that the U.S. women's soccer team turned their back on a World War II veteran during the national anthem is FALSE, based on our research. The U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. women's soccer team said players were looking at a flag located by the scoreboard at Rentschler Field. Other footage shows the players greeting Dupré and signing his soccer ball.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: U.S. women's soccer team did not disrespect WWII veteran

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