In response to Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem, the US Soccer Federation (USSF) passed a rule that will now obligate anyone playing for a US National team to stand for the national anthem.
The new policy was passed on February 9th by the federation’s board of directors. It was first made public via Twitter by Stuart Holden, a former US national team player. Holden also mentioned that Sunil Gulati, president of the USSF, that penalties on those who violate the new rule will handled on a case-by- case basis.
Needless to say, the new policy has divided opinions.
During a recent broadcast, Fox analyst and former US national team player, Alexi Lalas, was clear in his support for the new rule. He believes that the USFF has the right to force, more or less, players representing the country to stand for the anthem.
Lalas went off to say, “So damn right, I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna put my hand over my heart and I am going to sing. And I believe that all U.S. national team players should be required to do that. Because, just because we live in the land of the free, doesn’t mean that we are free to do anything that we want.”
Rapinoe, who had previously been reprimanded by the federation for kneeling, said that she will respect the federation’s new policy.
She said, “It is an honor to represent the USA and all that we stand for. To be able to pull on the red, white and blue to play a game that I love. I will respect the new bylaw the leadership at USSF has put forward. That said, I believe we should always value the use of our voice and platform to fight for equality of every kind.”
Some see this new ruling as a way to keep politics out of the sport while others see it as a way that ensures the national anthem and all that it entails will be respected. Yet others view it as a way to stamp out protests or criticisms towards certain institutions like the government or police who have been in the headlines for killing or excessive force towards minorities. They also see it as a violation of First Amendment rights but that’s another issue entirely.
The US Soccer Federation is the first professional league to explicitly enact this type of policy. While other demonstrations have occurred in different sports leagues, they have yet to enact any rule that would deter its players from carrying out these protests.
I think this is a cheap marketing gimmick to get the league some attention. Despite being around since 1993 , it still ranks towards the bottom in terms of viewership by the American public. The rule may attracts “patriots” who normally would not watch soccer.
The new rule has received praise and criticism from players and fans alike. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what sort of punishment is handed out if and when someone violates the rule.