U.S. Soccer has passed a new rule that mandates all of its players “stand respectably” during the national anthem.
The federation passed the new rule on the heels of a number of high profile protests, most notably Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the anthem before NFL games, but also when Megan Rapinoe kneeled before a soccer contest in September against Thailand.
In all cases, the athletes said they were protesting social inequality.
Soccer’s stance is much different than the other professional sports leagues. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he respects players’ right to protest. Soccer has gone one step further.
Immediately after Rapinoe refused to stand, soccer issued a blistering statement that said it expects its athletes to stand during the anthem.
Now, it’s passed the new rule.
A spokesperson for the players seemed to be taken aback, and issued this statement to Sports Illustrated:
The new rule lacks clarity and doesn’t define what “respectfully” means. If a player stands but turns his or her back; or raises a fist (a la the protests in the 1968 Olympics); or decides to speak while the anthem is playing; no one knows whether those would be examples of disrespect. For its part, soccer is taking a “wait and see” stance, given what soccer Federation president xxxxxxx said.
Making this even more intriguing – the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 1943, ruled it’s unconstitutional for government officials to force anyone to participate in patriotic activities. It’s true the soccer is not a government body, but it will be interesting to see if anyone challenges the new rule.