Megan Rapinoe will respect U.S. Soccer policy for anthems
Megan Rapinoe says she will respect a new U.S. Soccer Federation policy that says national team players "shall stand respectfully" during national anthems.
The policy was approved last month but came to light Saturday before the U.S. women's national team lost to England in the SheBelieves Cup. Fox Sports analyst Stuart Holden first posted an image of the rule on Twitter.
The policy comes after Rapinoe knelt during the anthem at a pair of national team matches last year. The midfielder has said she wanted to express solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt last season in an attempt to bring attention to racial inequality.
Rapinoe said in a statement released Monday by her agent: "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."
Rapinoe was not in the squad for the national team for the SheBelieves Cup tournament while she continues to regain her form after knee surgery. She also knelt last year during at least one game with the Seattle Reign, her National Women's Soccer League team.
Policy 604-1, passed by U.S. Soccer's board of directors on Feb. 9, 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."
"I know nothing about the policy and everything that went into it and all of that,'' U.S. men's coach Bruce Arena said Monday in the Bay Area. "I'm all for it. I don't have any background on what the legal implications are, collective bargaining, any of that stuff. Who would argue that you should be standing for your national anthem? I understand that. I also understand the other side of it.''
Following the 1-0 loss to England on Saturday, U.S. coach Jill Ellis was asked about the policy.
"I've always felt that that should be what we do to honor the country and have the pride of putting on a national team jersey. I said that previously, I think that should be the expectation. That's our workplace out there and we should represent ourselves and our country," Ellis said.
There is no predetermined consequence for going against the policy, with punishments to be addressed with each case, Holden reported U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati as saying.
The U.S. Women's National Team Players Union issued a statement over the weekend that said it was aware that U.S. Soccer was meeting and would be voting on new bylaws, however: "We were unaware of the content of those bylaws amendments, and we will assess the implications of any unreasonable restrictions for our members."
"I believe that players have the right to peaceably protest or bring light to issues that they want to bring light to. Obviously this policy comes from U.S. Soccer leadership. And it's a policy, so now that there are going to be repercussions, you decide whether to follow the policy or you don't follow the policy," USWNT co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said.
espnW's Graham Hays contributed to this report.