Steven Senne/Associated Press
Former United States men’s national team head coach Bruce Arena said playing the national anthem prior to sporting events is “inappropriate.”
He said as much on Banter with Taylor Twellman (h/t Jim Reineking of USA Today), pointing out, “We don’t use the national anthem in movie theaters, on Broadway, other events in the United States. I don’t think it is appropriate to have a national anthem before a baseball game or an MLS game. … I think it’s inappropriate. And today, it’s becoming too big of an issue.”
Arena clarified that he considers himself “the most patriotic person you’re ever going to be around” and thinks it is appropriate to play the song prior to marquee international matches such as the World Cup.
His comments come after the US Soccer Federation announced it repealed a policy that was put in place requiring players to stand for the national anthem.
The policy was put in place shortly after Megan Rapinoe knelt during the anthem in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a means of protesting racism, police brutality and inequality.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner explained why she knelt in an article for the Players’ Tribune:
“I have chosen to kneel because in the time it has taken me to write this article, many more Americans have been lost to senseless violence. I have chosen to kneel because not two miles from my hotel in Columbus, Ohio, on the night before our USWNT match against Thailand, a 13-year-old boy named Tyre King was fatally shot by a police officer. I have chosen to kneel because I simply cannot stand for the kind of oppression this country is allowing against its own people. I have chosen to kneel because, in the words of Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.'”
US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone apologized for the group’s past actions when discussing the decision to repeal the policy, saying, “I want to again personally apologize to all Black people, as well as other minorities, for us not being leaders in this fight.”
As for Arena, he led the United States to World Cup appearances in 2002 and 2006, directing the Americans to the quarterfinals in 2002. It remains the furthest the men’s team has advanced since 1930.
He also has five MLS Cup victories during a career that includes stops with DC United, Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution.