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US Women’s National Team demands end to policy requiring players stand for national anthem

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The U.S. Women’s Nation Team demanded in a Monday statement obtained by BuzzFeed News that US Soccer end a policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem.

The players on the world-champion national team request that US Soccer “lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement that it tried to silence four years ago,” BuzzFeed News reported the statement reads.

“The Federation should immediately repeal the ‘Anthem Policy,’ publish a statement acknowledging the policy was wrong when it was adopted, and issue an apology to our Black players and supporters,” it adds. 

The players’ statement comes ahead of US Soccer’s special board meeting scheduled for Tuesday to review its anthem policy, which mandates players “stand respectfully” during “The Star-Spangled Banner” at national team games. The requirement, which BuzzFeed News notes goes beyond the rules of organizations such as the NFL, has been in place in 2017 when the board passed it without objection.

If the board decides to reject the policy, the organization’s full membership, which is reportedly mainly white and male, will vote on it.

The national anthem rule was implemented after player Megan Rapinoe became the first white major athlete to kneel during the anthem in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In their statement, the players said the policy “perpetuates 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.”

“This is everybody’s responsibility, including this union and its members; we could and should have done more in the past,” the players said, according to BuzzFeed. “We are committed to rising up against racist, hateful and unjust acts to effect change. Black lives matter.”

Although no players were formally penalized from the policy, emails obtained by BuzzFeed show that in 2017, US Soccer had threatened to punish players who did not stand for the anthem with suspension.

“As to repercussions, what we have in mind is that for a first offense, the player be suspended for three (3) national team camps/games,” a US Soccer representative reportedly wrote to the player’s union of the men’s national team.

“For a second offense, the player would be suspended from participating in national team activities for twelve months.”

Rapinoe was kept off the US national team roster for more than six months after she said she would continue to kneel. She made the roster after she committed to standing for the anthem.

Rapinoe was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year last year after helping to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to its fourth World Cup.

Tags kneeling kneeling during the anthem kneeling protest Megan Rapinoe National anthem soccer The Star-Spangled Banner US Soccer US Women's National Team
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