- The Washington Times
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Rep. Matt Gaetz said he will soon reveal details about a bill compelling the U.S. Soccer Federation to require that its players stand in respect for the national anthem.

Mr. Gaetz, Florida Republican, announced plans to pursue the legislation after U.S. Soccer’s board voted this week to repeal a policy that required its athletes to respectfully stand for the song.

“I’d rather the US not have a soccer team than have a soccer team that won’t stand for the National Anthem. You shouldn’t get to play under our flag as our national team if you won’t stand when it is raised,” Mr. Gaetz said through his Twitter account Thursday following the board’s vote.

The congressman later said on his podcast, “Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz,” that he will introduce legislation compelling U.S. Soccer to reverse its decision to repeal Policy 604-1.

“I don’t like soccer enough for the U.S. to even have a soccer team if that soccer team is going to disrespect our anthem and our flag,” Mr. Gaetz said on his podcast Friday. “It is not like some essential thing that we have to have, if latched to the U.S. Soccer Team is this sense of such extreme wokeness that we cannot be proud of the United States while wearing the uniform of the United States.”

U.S. Soccer announced on Wednesday that its board voted to repeal Policy 604-1, which had been put in place three years earlier after star athlete Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the professional football player who had recently done the same as a means of protesting police brutality and racial injustice.

“It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement announcing the vote to repeal the 2017 rule.

Reacting on his podcast Friday, Mr. Gaetz said he was “triggered” by news of the policy being repealed and would announce details about his bill the following night on Fox News.

A spokesperson for Mr. Gaetz did not immediately return a message sent over the weekend requesting further information about the proposal, but the title of the congressman’s podcast episode suggested U.S. Soccer would face unspecified “financial repercussions” if it does not walk back its recent reversal.

“If players are playing for our national team, they should respect the honor that that bestows, they should stand for the anthem, they should respect our flag,” Mr. Gaetz said. “If we love America, we would expect and deserve and demand, no less.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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