Megan Rapinoe will abide by U.S. Soccer's new rule and stand for the national anthem
It seems U.S. Soccer has won and the Rapinoe Rule – as we’re now officially dubbing it here at FC Yahoo – will have its intended effect.
On Saturday, U.S. Soccer quietly adopted a new policy requiring all players to “stand respectfully” for the national anthem before games. Megan Rapinoe, the obvious target of that new rule after she twice took a knee during the anthem ahead of United States women’s national team game, has genuflected.
[ Follow FC Yahoo on social media: Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr ]
Back in September, she kneeled in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested racial injustice and inequality throughout his season with the San Francisco 49ers. Rapinoe did so again for a second game, in spite of the federation’s clear and public admonishment that it expected her to stand.
On Monday, Rapinoe gave a statement to several outlets through 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,” it read. “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.”
Debate has raged ever since Rapinoe first took a knee for her club team, the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League, and continued to take her stand on the national team, about whether such an action was appropriate while donning a jersey representing her country.
Some, including head coach Jill Ellis and the federation, felt that it failed to honor the flag and that the anthem before a national team game was the wrong time to protest. Others have argued that the point of protest is to draw attention however possible. And that demanding that your country do better through a demonstration during the most symbolic showings of national pride is its own form of patriotism.
On Saturday, Ellis told Yahoo Sports that she was “pleased” with the new rule.
“I’ve always felt that that should be what we do, honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey,” Ellis said. “I think that should be the expectation. That’s our workplace out there and I think we should represent ourselves and our country.”
Rapinoe hadn’t been on the national team much since her protest back in September. Officially – and quite plausibly – that was because her form hasn’t yet fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in December 2015 that also cost her the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.