US Soccer's board of directors has voted to repeal a 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, US 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 said new President Cindy Parlow Cone broached repealing the rule last week, the AP reports, and called for the special meeting. Three players were invited on the call to share their opinions.
The US Soccer Athletes' Council, which includes current national team players Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, as well as former players like Landon Donovan, called on US Soccer to apologize for the policy. "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 this week. The US Women's National Team Players Association also called for an apology from US Soccer and a plan to address racial inequality. Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem at a pair of national team matches in 2016. She said she wanted to express solidarity with Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who silently kneeled before NFL games to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.
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