On Monday, July 5, the U.S. women's soccer team defeated Mexico 4-0 in their final match before the Olympic Games.
While Team USA's victory was cheered by many, conservative social media users started circulating a video along with a claim that the team "disrespected" 98-year-old World War II veteran, , as he performed the national anthem on his harmonica.
For instance, right-wing website The Post Millennial tweeted out video footage of the alleged incident, claiming the players turned their backs on the veteran during his performance.
Meanwhile, others claimed the women turned away from the US flag during the performance. "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," wrote former acting U.S. National Intelligence.
Although the video does appear to show some of the players on USMNT's roster facing forward while others facing sideways, it was not meant to be a sign of protest or gesture of disrespect towards the national anthem or the war veteran. When DuPrÃ© began his patriotic performance, some players chose to face him, while others turned to face an American flag at the end of the stadium.
In the image above, you can see audience members behind DuPrÃ© facing to their right, which is where the U.S. flag was located. Although the flag is not visible in the video but a photograph from sports reporter Jess Kassouf shows the location of the flag for reference.
USWNT Denies the Claims, Shared Video Showing Players Signing a Ball for DuPrÃ©
The U.S. Soccer team also posted a statement on Twitter denying the claims. "Not true. No one turned their back on WWII Veteran Pete DuPrÃ© during tonight's anthem. 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."
The team's Instagram account shared the video footage of the team members, including the ones seen facing towards the flag, individually signing the ball for the war veteran following his performance.