There have already been some notable changes from sports organizations in response to the protests after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, including NASCAR banning displays of Confederate flags from their events. The U.S. Soccer board of directors is the latest group to make a significant change, with them removing their 2017 rule that prohibited players from kneeling during the national anthem (which Megan Rapinoe did on multiple occasions, including during the 2016 friendly pictured above, which led to her receiving criticism from the federation). Grant Wahl reported that news Wednesday:
Breaking: US Soccer board of directors did vote yesterday to repeal the 2017 rule preventing players from kneeling during the national anthem. Board is expected to issue a statement.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 10, 2020
Here’s more on that decision from Andrew Das of The New York Times:
The board voted to rescind the policy Tuesday night after several hours of debate on a conference call arranged by U.S. Soccer’s new president, Cindy Parlow Cone.
The vote to repeal was not unanimous, and came after a discussion that included comments from one player representative from the men’s, women’s and Paralympic teams. The views of those players, both on the ban and on the kneeling protests that prompted it, did not align, according to a person familiar with the call.
Cone had arranged the conference call with the board after several federation staff members raised the anthem policy in a federation-wide, all-hands meeting last week. The prospect of repealing the rule quickly gained the backing of the players associations representing the men’s and women’s national teams.
It’s certainly notable to see that change. And while U.S. Soccer doesn’t deserve a lot of credit here (their 2017 stance took a lot of criticism at the time it was brought in, and many other organizations have made more significant changes recently), it’s notable that they’re at least doing something minimal. But it should be noted that this is not without pressure; the USWNT players’ association called for this repeal ahead of Tuesday night’s vote:
USWNT Player's statment re: @ussoccer's "Anthem Policy" pic.twitter.com/Jd4OtRDhRJ
— USWNT Players (@USWNTPlayers) June 9, 2020
And here’s the U.S. Soccer statement on that:
The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday to repeal Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem.
Black Lives Matter.
We can do more and we will. pic.twitter.com/wtyfkVZmsB
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 11, 2020
There are certainly plenty of conversations ahead on what players will do during the anthem and how the organization will respond. But it’s significant to see U.S. Soccer moving away from that failed 2017 stance. And we’ll see what’s ahead for them.