US Soccer repeals ban on players kneeling during national anthem

June 10

U.S. Soccer released a statement on Wednesday night, announcing that the board has repealed the ban on players kneeling during the national anthem. You can read their full statement below.

The U.S. Soccer Federation 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. 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 systematic 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.

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. We can do more on these specific issues and we will.

It should be, and will be going forward, up to our players to determine how they can best use their platforms to fight all forms of racism, discrimination, and inequality. We are here for our players and are ready to support them in elevating their efforts to achieve social justice. We cannot change the past, but we can make a difference in the future. We are committed to this change effort, and we will be implementing supporting actions in the near future.

June 9

A U.S. Soccer special board meeting is set for Tuesday to possibly repeal the federation’s policy on players not kneeling during the national anthem, a federation spokesperson confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Monday. The story was first reported by ESPN reporter Jeff Carlisle. He added a formal vote could take place Friday.

The spokesperson also confirmed U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone will be recommending to repeal the policy.

The policy was originally established after US women’s national team player Megan Rapinoe knelt during a 2016 match, emulating the protests that then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led about racial inequality.

The issue has again entered the national discourse after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minnesota. Since, the world’s become engulfed by protests calling for police reform and equal opportunity for Black people in America. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also made national news last week by encouraging players to peacefully protest and admitting they were wrong not to listen to players sooner.

The U.S. Soccer policy was initially passed in 2017 and states: "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." 

If the policy is repealed or adjusted, it’d take effect immediately and then need to be approved at the next annual general meeting.

On Monday night, the USWNT Players Association called for an immediate repeal and acknowledge the policy was wrong when adopted. 

The organization's executive director, Becca Roux, issued a statement saying the policy "does not now and has never applied to USWNT Players" and there would be a coordinated effort with the USMNTPA to continue to reject it.

The US Soccer Athlete Council, consisting of current and former men and women's national team players, also spoke out against the policy and encourages the repeal through a statement