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 a SheBelieves Cup match. A Fox Soccer analyst 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.
“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 said in a statement released Monday by her agent.
Rapinoe was not on the roster 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 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.”
U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors passed it on Feb. 9.
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.
It is unclear what action would be taken if players do not follow the rule.
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.”