USA Soccer Reportedly Repeals 2017 Ban on Kneeling During National Anthem

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Megan Rapinoe #15 kneels during the National Anthem prior to the match between the United States and the Netherlands at Georgia Dome on September 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

U.S. Soccer’s board of directors has voted to revoke a 2017 ban on players kneeling during the national anthem, while also offering an apology:

U.S. Soccer @ussoccer

The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday to repeal Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem.

Black Lives Matter.
We can do more and we will. https://t.co/wtyfkVZmsB

The news comes amid worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed in Minneapolis police custody after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Changes have slowly begun to take place among major sports organizations as protests have occurred.

Of note, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared in a video apologizing for not listening to NFL players and encouraging players’ future protests. NASCAR has also banned the Confederate flag at its events.

The initial ban was enacted after United States women’s national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem before a USWNT friendly against Thailand in Columbus, Ohio, in September 2016 per ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.

Rapinoe’s act occurred in solidarity with ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled or sat during the national anthem beginning in August 2016 to protest systemic racism and police brutality.

The two-time World Cup winner explained why she did so in an October 2016 Players’ Tribune piece, saying in part:

“I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member’s body lying dead in the street. But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache.

There is no perfect way to protest. I know that nothing I do will take away the pain of those families. But I feel in my heart it is right to continue to kneel during the national anthem, and I will do whatever I can to be part of the solution.

She also explained her decision to John D. Halloran of American Soccer Now (h/t Sebastian Salazar of NBC Sports Washington) when she initially kneeled before a NWSL match between her Seattle Reign FC and the Chicago Red Stars.

Jessica Clarendon @jessicadolan

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“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” Rapinoe said. “It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.”

The U.S. Soccer ban on protests during the national anthem occurred the following year, but it now appears to be on its way out.

The USWNT Players Association called on U.S. Soccer for a repeal and apology Monday:

USWNT Players @USWNTPlayers

USWNT Player’s statment re: @ussoccer’s “Anthem Policy” https://t.co/Jd4OtRDhRJ

The men’s team has also called for a repeal, per Molly Hensley-Clancy of BuzzFeed News.

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