US Soccer repeals rule that banned kneeling during anthem

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo, United States' Megan Rapinoe, right, kneels next to teammates Christen Press (12), Ali Krieger (11), Crystal Dunn (16) and Ashlyn Harris (22) as the national anthem is played before the team's exhibition soccer match against the Netherlands in Atlanta. The U.S. women's national team wants the U.S. Soccer Federation to repeal the anthem policy it instituted after Rapinoe started kneeling during the national anthem. The U.S. women's team also wants the federation to state publicly that the policy was wrong and issue an apology to the team's black players and supporters. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo, United States' Megan Rapinoe, right, kneels next to teammates Christen Press (12), Ali Krieger (11), Crystal Dunn (16) and Ashlyn Harris (22) as the national anthem is played before the team's exhibition soccer match against the Netherlands in Atlanta. The U.S. women's national team wants the U.S. Soccer Federation to repeal the anthem policy it instituted after Rapinoe started kneeling during the national anthem. The U.S. women's team also wants the federation to state publicly that the policy was wrong and issue an apology to the team's black players and supporters. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

U.S. Soccer's board of directors has voted to repeal a 2017 policy that required national team players to stand during the national anthem, a rule adopted after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in support of Colin Kaepernick.

The board made the decision during a conference call, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday.

Policy 604-1 states: “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.” The board passed the rule on Feb. 9, 2017.

A person with knowledge of the discussions regarding the policy said new President Cindy Parlow Cone first broached repealing the rule last week, calling for the special meeting of the board. The person asked to remain anonymous because the process was not made public. Three players were invited on the call to share their opinions.

“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," U.S. Soccer said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

The U.S. Soccer Athletes' Council, which includes current national team players Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, as well as former players like Landon Donovan, called on U.S. Soccer to also apologize for the policy to foster a "positive relationship to exist going forward."

“Then and only then do we feel a new chapter between the USSF and its athletes can begin. Additionally, we urge US Soccer to develop a plan with action items focused on anti-racism that will be shared publicly with its athletes, key stakeholders, and fans,” the council said in a statement earlier this week.

The U.S. Women's National Team Players Association also called for an apology from U.S. Soccer and a plan to substantively address racial inequality.