The U.S. Soccer Federation has lifted its ban on the controversial practice – followed by some players – of kneeling while the national anthem is played.
USSF Board of Directors voted Tuesday to repeal Policy 604-1, which required soccer players to stand during the national anthem.
The board meeting via conference call was convened by USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone.
USSF admitted that the policy, introduced in 2017, was “wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.”
“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,” the federation said in a statement.
It apologized to players – especially the Black players – staff, fans, and all those 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,” the statement added.
In the wake of nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd in police custody, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league made a mistake not listening to players. He encouraged them to speak out and peacefully protest.
U.S. athletes began to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the NFL in 2016 to protest police brutality and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in the country.
Inspired by him, U.S. women’s football team co-captain Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem at a National Women’s Soccer League match.
The gesture, which is seen as a show of disrespect, had evoked strong criticism by many political leaders in the U.S., including President Donald Trump.
Following this, USSF passed a rule next year requiring players and team personnel to “stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”
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