US Soccer Federation repeals ban on kneeling during national anthem

June 11, 2020

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has voted to repeal its ban on players kneeling during the national anthem, admitting the policy was "wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter".

The USSF passed a rule in 2017, requiring players and team personnel to "stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented".

It was introduced after Megan Rapinoe knelt in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality and racial injustice.

In a statement, USSF said: "U.S. Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices.

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

"It has become clear that this policy 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.

"We apologise to our players - especially our Black players - staff, fans, and all 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 move by the USSF to reconsider its position comes after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that the league made a mistake not listening to players and encouraged them to speak out and peacefully protest.

MLS, the US's top-tier men's league, has reiterated its "longstanding position supporting players' right to peacefully protest during national anthems before games" as a public show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has asked associations across the globe to use 'common sense' when it comes to following the rules the governing body has over players sharing political, religious or personal messages while on the pitch.

Infantino added that those players showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and to honour George Floyd should be 'applauded and not punished' for their actions.

The Premier League will be supportive of players who take a knee as a public show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement when the season resumes next week.

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