Megan Rapinoe will ‘respect’ new U.S. Soccer rule requiring players stand during anthem

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Megan Rapinoe #15 kneels during the National Anthem prior to the match between the United States and the Netherlands at Georgia Dome on September 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Megan Rapinoe will respect the U.S. Soccer Federation’s new policy requiring players to “stand respectfully” for the national anthem, she said Monday.

The policy was approved last month but first revealed over the weekend at U.S. Soccer’s annual general meeting. It reads: “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.”

Rapinoe issued the following statement Monday 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. 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.”

It appears U.S. Soccer passed the new policy in response specifically to Rapinoe’s repeated protests during the national anthem last year. She said her decision to kneel during the national anthem was done in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was kneeling to protest racial injustice, and she said the protest was not directed at the U.S. military. But it still touched off controversy from those who thought it was inappropriate to do in a U.S. national team uniform.

U.S. Soccer has not outlined any specific punishment for players who do not adhere to the new rule. Federation president Sunil Gulati said it would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to FOX Sports analyst Stuart Holden, who broke the news of the new policy.

Rapinoe started kneeling during the anthem last year with her club, the Seattle Reign, but when she was called up for U.S. national team duty, she continued her protests there. At the time, U.S. Soccer said it was an expectation that players stand during the anthem, but stopped short of requiring it and Rapinoe was not punished.

Rapinoe is not currently with the U.S. women’s national team, which is competing in the SheBelieves Cup, which finishes on Tuesday with a match vs. France.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.