USWNT: Should soccer stars be forced to stand for anthem?

Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women's National Team kneels during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem before a match against Thailand on September 15 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Story highlights

  • USWNT players must stand for anthem
  • Megan Rapinoe previously knelt before USWNT games
  • Punishment for non-compliance still unclear

(CNN)Will Megan Rapinoe continue her protest by kneeling during the national anthem the next time she suits up for the U.S. Women's National Team?

She could now face discipline if she does.
The U.S. Soccer Federation has confirmed to CNN it will require its players to stand for the national anthem at events where the federation is represented. On Saturday, Fox Sports' Stuart Holden tweeted the new policy -- which was passed by the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors on February 9 -- saying, "New Policy added to @ussoccer bylaws: Players 'shall stand respectfully during playing of national anthem @ which federation is represented.'"
    What might happen if a player turned his or her back against the flag, refused to stand or made a derogatory gesture? At this time, it's still not clear what type of punishment would ensue.
    U.S. Soccer Director of Communications Neil Buethe told CNN: "Any action that would be taken if a player did not follow the policy would be determined at that time."
    Rapinoe, who also plays for the Seattle Reign in the National Women's Soccer League, knelt during the national anthem before a September game against the Chicago Red Stars in a show of solidarity with protesting NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. She cited her experiences as a gay American who deals with discrimination in her decision to make the very visible show of support.
    Rapinoe also stood and linked arms with her Reign teammates before a game on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and knelt before the USWNT played friendly matches against Thailand and the Netherlands in September.
    U.S. Soccer replied at the time by saying: "We have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played."
    Rapinoe, 31, was left off the U.S. Women's National Team roster of the SheBelieves Cup, which started Wednesday.
    Sport Illustrated's Grant Wahl tweeted a response from a spokesperson for the USWNT players, which in part said they were aware the federation was holding its board meeting during the SheBelieves Cup and that the federation would be voting on adoption of new bylaws for the organization.
    "We were unaware of the content of those bylaws amendments, and we will assess the implications of any unreasonable restrictions for our members," the statement read.
    Kaepernick, meanwhile, reportedly plans to stand for the anthem next season, according to ESPN. He opted out of his 49ers contract, becoming a free agent.