The U.S. Men’s National Team represents the entire nation when it comes to international soccer and, with protests raging on throughout American sports, the topic of the National Anthem remains a hot one with World Cup qualifying approaching.
Bruce Arena is all for players using the singing of the anthem as a time of protest, but also sees why U.S. Soccer has a policy requiring players to stand respectfully as it plays.
“I think the demonstrations by the players are appropriate. I can’t question that,” Arena said, according to Goal USA. “I don’t want to get into a political debate here. The national team’s different. You don’t have to play in the national team. You can choose not to play.
“Those guys are professionals in their club teams. That’s their jobs. They have to be there. Our guys don’t have to be. We have a policy at U.S. Soccer. that our players respect the national anthem. What more can I say?”
U.S. Soccer instituted a policy last February stating that anyone representing the federation at the national team level “shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”
The move came in response to U.S. Women’s National team player Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the anthem before a match. No specific punishment was named for violating this code, but it would be doled out on a case by case basis.
Arena wasn’t interested in punishing any of his players for taking a knee, however. He’d rather focus on defeating Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.
“What do you think I should do? Right then and there take them off the field, burn a few substitutions?” Arena asked. “What happens if four guys take a knee? What do I do?
“If we need to discuss it, we’ll discuss it, but I don’t think that’s an issue we’re going to deal with. We’ve got enough to worry about on Oct. 6 besides kneeling and stuff.”