11 June 2020

US Soccer Federation repeals ban on players kneeling during national anthem in show of support for Black Lives Matter movement

US Soccer has revoked its decision to ban players from kneeling during the national anthem, an act associated with showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The ban was initially imposed by the United States’ soccer body when Megan Rapinoe knelt in 2016 following NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s attempts to bring attention to police brutality toward black people in America.

Kneeling during the national anthem was started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 (SIPA USA/PA Images)

But after four years, the USSF has now admitted the decision to ban kneeling was wrong and has apologised to players, staff and fans.

The statement from the country’s national governing body read: "US Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices.

"The US 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."

The US men’s and women’s team have no upcoming matches scheduled, so it is not known when the players will be given their first opportunity to take a knee during The Star-Spangled Banner.

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