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U.S. soccer repeals requirement players stand for national anthem

Policy had been put in place after star player Megan Rapinoe began kneeling during anthem in 2016.

Updated: February 28, 2021 - 8:45am

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The U.S. Soccer Federation's National Council has voted to repeal its requirement that players to stand for the national anthem, reviving an issue that started when star player Megan Rapinoe knelt during a 2016 match.

The vote Saturday received received more than 71% of the weighted vote of the national council, according to ESPN, and was the final step after the USSF board of directors last June first recommended repealing the requirement.

Soccer officials said the decision was not designed to dishonor the military, the flag or police but to allow free expression by players.

"This is about the athletes' and our staff's right to peacefully protest racial inequalities and police brutality," USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone said. "So I urge our membership to please support our staff and our athletes on this policy."

The repealed policy had been approved in 2017 and stated, "All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national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."

It had been put in place after Rapinoe knelt for the national anthem during a 2016 U.S. National Team game against Thailand and several times afterward, showing solidarity with football star Colin Kaepernick, who had knelt during the anthem prior to NFL games to protest racial inequality and police brutality.