US Soccer Will Now Require Players to ‘Stand Respectfully’ During National Anthem

Following a number of recent anthem protests, U.S. Soccer has revealed a new rule that will require all players on national soccer teams to stand during the national anthem.

The bylaw, which was unveiled over the weekend, was created largely in response to Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s recent decision to kneel during the national anthem before games, according to the New York Times.

Rapinoe started kneeling back in September, to show her support for the controversial protest started by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. She told American Soccer Now:

“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t.

We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”

U.S. Soccer officially instituted the new policy at the Annual General Meeting in Hawaii, on Saturday, according to the Seattle Times. The policy reads:

“All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of the national anthem at any event in which the Federation is represented.”

The rule was originally passed by federation’s board of directors February 9, according to the New York Times.

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati has long expressed discontentment regarding Rapinoe’s decision to kneel. He told FourFourTwo:

“There is a right to free speech; she also has the obligations to putting on a national team uniform. And we think those are pretty strong when you’re representing the U.S. national team and wearing the crest.”

The new bylaw seemed to cause a split reaction on social media. Though many on Twitter seemed happy that players are now required to respect the anthem, some brought up concerns regarding freedom of speech.

No official punishments have been announced for those who break the controversial bylaw.

Rapinoe has not yet issued a response to the new policy.

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