The United States Soccer Federation's board of directors voted on Tuesday to repeal its policy that requires athletes to stand during the national anthem before games, according to a report from Grant Wahl. The decision was made earlier than expected, as the board met for a conference call on Tuesday to make it rather than wait until Friday, when the next meeting was scheduled.
The policy that was first enacted in 2017 specifically reads: "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 was made shortly after USWNT star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem before a 2016 match, in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick's protest against police brutality and racial inequality.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Soccer Athletes' Council released a statement that called on the USSF to apologize for the policy.
"Then and only then do we feel a new chapter between the USSF and its athletes can begin. Additionally, we urge U.S. Soccer to develop a plan with action items focused on anti-racism that will be shared publicly with its athletes, key stakeholders, and fans," the council said in a statement earlier this week.
The council includes current players like Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, as well as former players like Landon Donovan. But they were not alone in their call for action. The USWNT also called for an apology for this policy, especially given that all around the country protests are erupting over police brutality and racial inequality.
"Until USSF does so, the mere existence of the policy will continue to perpetuate the misconceptions and fear that clouded the true meaning and significance of Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe and other athletes taking a knee -- that Black people in America have not been and continue to not be afforded the same liberties and freedoms as white people and that police brutality and systemic racism exist in this country," the team said in a statement.
ESPN reports that the federation reconsidered this policy in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer after he was stopped for an alleged counterfeit bill.