The U.S. Soccer Federation became the latest organization to cave to the demands of social justice causes, repealing a rule that mandated players stand for the national anthem before games.
During a virtual conference of the group’s annual general meeting on Saturday, 71.34 percent of National Council members voted to repeal the policy which had already been nixed by the USSF board of directors last summer. Hundreds of voters make up the National Council, including representatives for youth, adult amateur and professional populations, in addition to the athletes’ council.
United States Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone attempted to comfort critics of the move, insisting the repeal of the policy meant no disrespect to the military or the nation’s flag. However, she made clear that the move was done to allow for players to take up social justice causes:
“This is about the athletes’ and our staff’s right to peacefully protest racial inequalities and police brutality,” she said. “So I urge our membership to please support our staff and our athletes on this policy.”
The rule mandating that players stand for the anthem originally in response to U.S. national women’s team player Megan Rapinoe, who became the first white athlete to join former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protesting of the national anthem.
The rule mandating that players stand for the anthem was initially popular with some players and coaches, some of whom reasoned that they were in a unique position of representing the United States during competition and should have respect for the anthem:
“I’ve always felt that that should be what we do, to honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey. I said that previously. I think that should be the expectation,” she said. “That’s our workplace out there, and I think we should represent ourselves and our country. So yeah, I’m pleased with that.”
Former U.S. men’s team player Jermaine Jones also supported the policy.
“You know, for me it’s clear. I think if you represent your country, you have to stand,” he said. “So if you have the blessing that you can wear that jersey, I don’t think it’s nice for you to kneel down and that’s my [view] to that.”
But that show of respect was short lived amid a year of racial justice protests and riots, with players now free to resume their controversial mode of protesting.
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