U.S. Soccer repeals rule requiring players to stand during national anthem

The move comes as cultural debate continues to rage over the issue of athletes kneeling during the national anthem

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Megan Rapinoe in March 2020
Megan Rapinoe in March 2020
(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Last Updated:
June 10, 2020 - 10:33pm

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The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors has voted to revoke a policy that required athletes remain standing for the national anthem.

"The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality, and the systemic oppression of black people and people of color in America. It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter," the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement about the vote Tuesday.

Such kneeling protests have proven polarizing over the years, spurring strong societal debate. 

National attention has focused on issues relating to race in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Floyd, a black man, was pinned by a white officer and could be heard in a video saying that he could not breathe.

In its statement U.S. Soccer also issued an apology to "all who support eradicating racism." 

"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 apologize 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"

The statement said that players will be permitted to utilize their platforms as they wish to combat racism and promote social justice.

According to the Associated Press, the rule was approved in February 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."

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