Congressman Matt Gaetz (left) and Megan Rapinoe (right). (Courtesy of Gaetz’s office)
By Michael Lewis
Is a culture war over U.S. Soccer’s decision to repeal Policy 604-1 on the horizon?
Congressman Matt Gaetz (Fla.-R) said Friday that will draft legislation that will require U.S. Soccer to reverse its decision it made earlier this week about repealing Policy 604-1 or face financial repercussions. That policy had required for national team players to stand for the national anthem.
Gaetz did not specify what sort of financial sanctions there might be.
“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,” Gaetz said in a statement on his website. “If we love America, we would expect and deserve and demand, no less.”
Gaetz, who represents Florida District 1, announced his intentions on his podcast, “Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz” Friday.
“Today the news has me triggered,” he said on his website.
“I just could not believe this when I saw it. This is the U.S. national soccer team, making the decision that the soccer players who play underneath our flag, do not have to stand for it, as it is being presented.
“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. 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.”
Given that the Democrats enjoy a majority in the House of Representatives and that party’s political bent, the likelihood of Gaetz’s bill getting to a vote must be considered a longshot.
Also, FIFA statues stipulate that governments cannot interfere over the jurisdiction of any national associations. If they do, said country could be suspended or thrown out of the worldwide organization, depending on the infraction.
According to the congressman’s website, Gaetz is expected to announce details of the legislation on Judge Jeanine’s television show, “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on FOX News Saturday at 9 p.m.
On Tuesday night, U.S. Soccer announced the reversal of its policy.
The policy was put in place after U.S. women’s international star Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in America.
“It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter,” a U.S. Soccer Federation statement said Tuesday.
“We have not done enough to listen – especially to our players – to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of Black and other minority communities in our country. We apologize to our players – especially our Black players – staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism. Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues and we will.
“It should be, and will be going forward, up to our players to determine how they can best use their platforms to fight all forms of racism, discrimination and inequality. We are here for our players and are ready to support them in elevating their efforts to achieve social justice. We cannot change the past, but we can make a difference in the future. We are committed to this change effort, and we will be implementing supporting actions in the near future.”
The U.S. Soccer board of directors meets on Saturday afternoon. It was not immediately known whether USSF president Cindy Parlow-Cone or any of the board members will answer Gaetz and his intentions.