The U.S. women's national team made a pregame change before Sunday's SheBelieves Cup match against Brazil in Orlando. All players in the starting lineup stood for the national anthem. In recent months, many UWWNT players kneeled during the anthem to protest racism and inequality both in the United States and around the world. Despite the change on Sunday, players say their goal remains the same.
The players still look to use their platform to raise awareness on issues going on in sports and beyond.
Defender Crystal Dunn explained the decision to reporters -- including Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel -- after the 2-0 win over Brazil:
"We never felt we were going to kneel forever. There was always going to be a time that we felt it was time to stand. We're all proud that we are doing the work behind the scenes. It was just a game that we felt we were ready to move into the next phase and just continuously fight for change ... Even though we are choosing to stand, it doesn't mean that the conversations go away or they stop. It's all to say that we are now ready to move past the protesting phase and actually move into putting all of the talk into actual work."
Dunn continued, saying the kneeling aspect of their plan for change was no longer necessary in their opinion.
"I think those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism, and I think we decided that moving forward we no longer feel the need to kneel," Dunn said. "Because we are doing the work behind the scenes, we are combating systemic racism."
The group choice to stand was made by the players at the head of the pursuit of change and was not done by a formal vote. They wanted to put their energy towards a new approach to activism.
Some players did not previously kneel, saying they did not believe they needed to in order to bring change. Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd were among those who did not kneel prior to Thursday's game in the SheBelieves Cup against Canada.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during NFL games as a way to protest police brutality in 2016. USWNT player Megan Rapinoe was one of the stars who supported Kaepernick in his mission to kneel as a way to bring attention to racism and followed his lead in February of 2017. Following Rapinoe kneeling, the U.S. Soccer federation put a ban on kneeing for the anthem, but the ban was repealed in June.
Dunn said at first she was hesitant to kneel with her teammate, because as a Black woman she feared the response.
She detailed her experiences as a Black athlete saying, "For me personally, I've always felt like I'm a testament to a lot of Black experiences. I am a Black athlete who has often felt like I've not been heard or not been seen, and many Black people feel the same way. We've had those initial discussions and I feel better about where this team is, but I do think moving forward, we're prepared to just continue working off the field and continuously having these conversations."
The players say they remain committed to using their platform for good.