The U.S. Soccer policy requiring players to "stand respectfully" during the national anthem is officially dead.
At a virtual conference Saturday, the U.S. Soccer federation’s national council voted to repeal a policy that had already been put on ice by the body's board of directors, making the repeal permanent. More than 70% of the ruling body voted in favor of the repeal:
US Soccer's members have voted to repeal a 2017 rule that required players to stand during the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/mvebm43a5E
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) February 27, 2021
Multiple members spoke critically of the repeal before the vote, the most notable of which was 7-a-side Paralympian Seth Jahn, who trotted out an outrageous speech claiming police brutality to be a myth and denying the impact of slavery in the United States.
The comments were enough for U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone to reportedly address the council and state that the policy repeal was not intended to disrespect the flag or military.
"This is about the athletes' and our staff's right to peacefully protest racial inequalities and police brutality," she said. "So I urge our membership to please support our staff and our athletes on this policy."
The controversial rule was originally put in place in early 2017 after Megan Rapinoe knelt to peacefully protest social injustice before games in late 2016 out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. A month after the killing of George Floyd, U.S. Soccer's board convened to lift the rule, which read:
"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."
Rapinoe was among the many to criticize the rule, complaining that it functionally silenced U.S. Soccer's Black players and those supporting them.
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