SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Professional athletes taking a knee as a form of protest during the National Anthem has spread beyond the NFL. But when it comes to the USL, nearly all remain standing.

It was an ordinary night at Papa Murphy’s Park. People filled the stadium to watch Republic FC play against Real Salt Lake.

Before the opening kick, the same ritual to honor America played out. Players walked hand in hand with young fans to the center of the field. It was followed by the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

All the players and coaches stood quietly.

“If they want to make a statement, they have a right to do that in America,” said Mike Koener, a season ticket holder.

The Sac Republic has several foreign players. And according to the USL, it’s standard practice for starters on each squad to stand at midfield for the playing of the anthem.

“They represent to our young people what’s right and wrong,” said Renee Zaring, a soccer fan at Wednesday’s game.

Over the weekend in another sport, the National Football League, more than 200 players, coaches and team owners took part in a kneeling demonstration.

“My personal opinion is that it’s un-American,” said Zaring, “I don’t think it really solves much.”

According to one of the first NFL players to take a knee, Eric Reid with the San Francisco 49ers, he says the action was to protest “systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system.”

“Anyway we can express racial equality is important,” said another soccer game attendee.

There were mixed views in the crowd, but solidarity in the actions by those on the field.

The USL released a statement saying the league “supports the First Amendment rights afforded by the constitution of the United States for our members, players and staff.”


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