The women, who were joined in calling for the policy’s reversal by the men’s national team and a group of current and former national team players (both men and women), got exactly that.
“The U.S. Soccer Federation affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices,” the organization said in a statement confirming its repeal of its policy on standing during the anthem.
“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. 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 policy against kneeling during the national anthem was instituted in 2017, after midfielder Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem before a 2016 U.S. match against Thailand to express her solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his silent protest of racial injustice and police brutality.
U.S. Soccer responded with a policy stating that all people representing one of the federation’s national teams “shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented."
With its reversal, U.S. Soccer becomes the latest U.S. sports governing body to pivot and publicly affirm a commitment to racial justice and athletes’ rights to speak out and express their views following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while a Minnesota police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Tuesday’s conference call was convened by U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, presiding over the panel’s first meeting since she assumed the post following the March 12 resignation of Carlos Cordeiro.