U.S. Soccer to Force Players to Stand for National Anthem
U.S. Soccer announced on Saturday a controversial policy that states all American players must “stand respectfully” during national anthems before national team games.
The bylaw, which was announced during the U.S. Soccer Federation’s annual general meeting in Hawaii over the weekend, states: “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”
Some Have Knelt for the Anthem
This policy comes on the heels of a social firestorm largely sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick infamously decided against standing for the national anthem prior to games last season, and instead chose to kneel or sit during the song. Kaepernick stated that because of social unrest in the country, he did not feel it was proper to honor the flag.
Many athletes all over the country followed Kaepernick’s lead, including American soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe controversially knelt for the “Star Spangled Banner” prior to the U.S. women’s friendly against Thailand last September.
Some Agree With the New Rule
While the new measure requiring players and team staff to stand for the anthem has drawn criticism, not everyone is opposed. On the heels of the USA’s home defeat at the hands of England on Saturday evening, USWNT head coach Jill Ellis had this to say (via ESPNFC):
“I’ve always felt that that should be what we do, to honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey. I said that previously. I think that should be the expectation. That’s our workplace out there, and I think we should represent ourselves and our country. So yeah, I’m pleased with that.”
U.S. men’s team veteran Jermaine Jones agrees with the rule change, but also admits that his teammates are free to make their own choices and decisions on the matter.
Rapinoe was not with the American team on Saturday night and reportedly did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for a comment on the new anthem policy. U.S. Soccer publicly stated that it did not agree with Rapinoe’s decision to kneel previously.
No Penalty for Breaking Rule Yet
As of now, there is no set punishment in place for those that break the new rule. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati reportedly said that penalties will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
As for Kaepernick, who is currently a free agent, ESPN reported last week that the quarterback plans to stand for the “Star Spangled Banner” next season.
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