US Soccer says players must stand for national anthem

U.S. Soccer has adopted a new policy requiring all players to "stand respectfully" for the playing of the national anthem.

The move comes after one of the women's team players, Megan Rapinoe, kneeled while in uniform as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played before games against Thailand and the Netherlands in September.

Rapinoe, who was left off the U.S. women's national team roster for the upcoming year, said she was backing then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest by kneeling rather than standing. The move was meant as a protest against alleged police brutality.

The new policy was announced at U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday.

In response to Rapinoe's actions, U.S. Soccer had released a statement that said, "We have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor the flag while the national anthem is played."

The new policy does not make clear whether there would be a punishment for any U.S. Soccer members who violate the directive.

The president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, said consequences of a policy violation would be addressed "as it happens," but did not elaborate further.

The women's national team coach, Jill Ellis, reportedly said she was "pleased" with the new policy.

"I've always felt that that should be what we do, to honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey. I said that previously. I think that should be the expectation," she told The Associated Press on Saturday.