Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz introduced a bill that would enforce U.S. Soccer players stand during the national anthem.

The bill was only introduced a few days after the U.S. Soccer Federation had repealed the requirement. Last Thursday, Gaetz tweeted that if the U.S. Soccer Team did not stand for the national anthem, then the U.S. did not need a soccer team at all.

It is not uncommon to see politicians take to social media platforms to promote their ideas or criticize others. Gaetz was clear in deeming the U.S. Soccer Team is unnecessary and does not believe athletes should be allowed to play under a flag that they do not stand for when raised.

One day after his tweet went viral, Gaetz announced on his podcast, “Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz,” that he was creating legislation requesting the reversal of U.S. Soccer’s decision to repeal Policy 604-1. This policy was introduced in 2017 and required players to stand during the national anthem.

Policy 604-1 was implemented after Megan Rapinoe took a knee in 2016, supporting and paralleling Colin Kaepernick’s actions in the NFL. Kneeling during the national anthem has been a topic of controversy for years after Kaepernick’s actions got him unjustly ejected from the NFL.

Gaetz was transparent on his stance regarding the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors’ decision to repeal Policy 604-1. He claimed it was, essentially, incomprehensible as to how the U.S. National Soccer Team is accepting of its players not standing for the flag as it is being presented.

Past, Present, Future

Rapinoe has been consistent in expressing her views on equal rights as well as her rejection of President Donald Trump. Her comments and gestures have caused even more controversy and sparked a new set of changes in other sports industries.

This had only been an issue discussed in the NFL up until Rapinoe’s continued advocacy for equal human rights after the U.S. Women’s Soccer team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.

President Trump does not support anyone kneeling while the flag is presented, and his views pushed the U.S. Soccer Federation to pass a motion requiring all of its players to stand for the flag.

However, as of last Wednesday, the federation has repealed the motion and will no longer require players to stand during the anthem. The federation claims they acknowledge how their policy deterred the focus of the message from Black Lives Matter to being about the flag.

The federation recognizes how its past actions have failed to acknowledge the real experiences black people and other minorities face in the U.S. They publicly apologized, especially to their black athletes, and hope to use their platform effectively in the future.

Gaetz’s Controversial Response

After the U.S. Soccer Federation announced their support of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the repeal of Policy 604-1, Gaetz was quick to comment on the lack of necessity for a soccer team at all.

Gaetz claims that the soccer team is not worth having if they are going to “disrespect” the anthem and flag. He also added he did not like soccer enough for the U.S. to even have a team.

Gaetz also argued that U.S. soccer players’ actions and Kaepernick’s protests in the NFL are very different and should not be discussed in the same ways. Although he does not support Kaepernick’s actions, Gaetz stated that “at least” the NFL is a private company, whereas the U.S. national team is representative of a whole country.

He believes lawmakers have the right to enforce athletes to stand for the flag if they are on a U.S. national team. Gaetz also addressed more details of the legislation on Fox News on Saturday.

Many sports industry executives have spoken out on players’ rights to protest and be heard after the death of George Floyd. Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans head coach, clarified why athletes choose to take a knee.

“They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag,” O’Brien said, stating he’ll join his players in taking a knee. “They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.”

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