Story at a glance

  • In 2017, U.S. Women's National Team player Megan Rapinoe joined quarterback Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protest against systemic racism embedded in U.S. institutions.
  • The U.S. Soccer Federation then passed a policy requiring athletes to stand during the national anthem.
  • Now, the council has voted to repeal the policy with majority support.

The U.S. Soccer Federation’s athletes’ council removed a member Sunday after he delivered a seven-minute speech littered with false statements and racist allegations at a recent meeting addressing players’ right to protest. 

The federation in June voted 71 percent in favor of repealing a 2017 policy requiring athletes to stand during the national anthem, after U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) player Megan Rapinoe became the first outside the NFL to join Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protest.


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"After being in staff positions on the senior teams, youth national teams and a player with the national team, a great number [of] the biggest names in our federation vehemently disagree with kneeling, behind closed doors of course, but they are ostracized for voicing their positions within the team or publicly, which I'm not afraid to do. I've earned the right. I promised I'd keep their identities concealed, but how do you think this ultimately affects the culture and cohesiveness of the team and their performance. United we stand, divided we kneel," said former US national captain and paralympian Seth Jahn, who voted against the repeal. 

In a statement, the council said it “wants to be unequivocal in its condemnation of the statements that Mr. Jahn made yesterday” and that it "does not tolerate this type of language and finds it incompatible with membership on the council." 


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In his speech, the 38-year-old dismissed the issue of police brutality against Black Americans as "a statistical anomaly" and invoked a false statistic purporting to represent "black on black crime," which many critics consider a dangerous and racist myth. Much of his argument against athletes' protests against police brutality and slavery centered around the idea that these problems are universal, saying "there's racism in every race" and "every race....has been enslaved." He also minimized slavery, falsely claiming that the United States was the only country to fight to end slavery (Mexico did so even before the U.S.).

"I lived in Africa for two and a half years where I could purchase people - slaves - between the price of $300 and $800 per person, per head, depending on their age, health and physicality,” said Jahn, who cited his own "mixed race" identity, claiming to represent the Aniwaya clan of the Cherokee Nation, and invoked his time in the military.

Rapinoe applauded the federation's move, calling it “spot on.”

 

"Seth is entitled to his own opinion - he is, however, not entitled to his own set of facts nor do I think he should use said facts in a way that misinforms and obfuscates the real issues at hand," said Becky Sauerbrunn, the current captain of the USWNT. 


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Published on Mar 01, 2021