The U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors voted to repeal its policy requiring national team players to stand during the national anthem, according to ESPN sources.
At the urging of USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone, the board met via conference call on Tuesday to discuss the policy, and rather than wait until its next meeting on Friday, the decision was made to vote on repeal.
The news was first reported by Grant Wahl on his Twitter account.
The repeal will take effect immediately, meaning it will be in force until the next annual general meeting (AGM) early next year. At that point, the national council will vote to either back the repeal or vote to keep the policy in place.
Policy 604-1, which was passed at the USSF’s AGM in 2017, stated: “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”
The policy was adopted in response to the actions of U.S. women’s national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who knelt for the national anthem before a 2016 match against Thailand. She did so in a bid to show solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had knelt during the anthem prior to NFL games to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
Rapinoe did the same several times with her club, the Seattle Reign, now known as OL Reign. Following the policy’s adoption, Rapinoe said she would honor the policy and has continued to do so.
The U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, which includes current national team players Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, as well as former players such as Landon Donovan, called on U.S. Soccer to also apologize for the policy to foster a “positive relationship to exist going forward.”
“Then and only then do we feel a new chapter between the USSF and its athletes can begin. Additionally, we urge U.S. Soccer to develop a plan with action items focused on anti-racism that will be shared publicly with its athletes, key stakeholders, and fans,” the council said in a statement earlier this week.
The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association also called for an apology from U.S. Soccer and a plan to substantively address racial inequality.
“Until USSF does so, the mere existence of the policy will continue to perpetuate the misconceptions and fear that clouded the true meaning and significance of Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe and other athletes taking a knee — that Black people in America have not been and continue to not be afforded the same liberties and freedoms as white people and that police brutality and systemic racism exist in this country.”
But in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a black man, when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis on May 25, protests have taken place across the U.S. about the very issues Kaepernick and Rapinoe were trying to raise. Some of those demonstrations have included protestors and some police officers kneeling in memory of Floyd. This led the USSF to reconsider its policy.
The repeal also had the support of the players’ unions representing both the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams, as well as from USSF staff.