U.S. Soccer anthem policy: Athlete Council and player associations call for repeal and apology

In a statement issued on Monday, members of U.S. Soccer's Athlete Council called for the repeal of Policy 604-1, known as the anthem policy.

U.S. Soccer's board of directors will hold a special meeting by teleconference on Tuesday to discuss Policy 604-1's repeal.

Three members of the Athlete Council are voting members on the federation board, which currently consists of 14 voting members. The Athlete Council holds 20 percent of the vote on the National Council, which will have to confirm any decision by the board at its next meeting in 2021.

The 20 percent voting interest is imposed by federal law. (A bill to increase athlete representation on NGBs from 20 to 33 percent was introduced in Congress in 2019.)

Athlete Council statement:

The members of the Athlete Council recently held a meeting to discuss U.S. Soccer’s anthem policy. The group invited both current and former players from our Women’s, Men’s, Beach, and Para 7-a-side National Teams. The guests shared their personal experiences and insight related to both the anthem policy and the groundswell of action taking place nationwide.

The Athlete Council strongly encourages the Board of Directors to repeal policy 604-1, the anthem policy. We understand the voting membership of U.S. Soccer will have the final say on this policy and we hope they will join us in our quest to allow an athlete to peacefully protest. 

While provisionally repealing the policy is a start for U.S. Soccer, there is a clear lack of trust between the Athletes and the leadership. In order for a positive relationship to exist going forward, we feel U.S. Soccer should apologize and offer an admission of wrongdoing. Then and only then do we feel a new chapter between the USSF and its athletes can begin. Additionally, we urge U.S. Soccer to develop a plan with action items focused on anti-racism that will be shared publicly with its athletes, key stakeholders, and fans.

One meeting among athletes is not going to fix all problems. With that in mind we would like to invite the members of our women’s and men’s players associations and members of our Extended National Teams to engage with the Athlete Council on a consistent and continued basis to inspire and ignite change. 

Both the player associations representing players on the the men's and women's national team also issued similar statements.

The women also called for an apology "to our black players and supporters" and how the federation would support the message and movement "that it tried to silence four year ago." The men also asked for an apology for the policy and for the policy to be rescinded.

Both associations maintain that the policy did not apply to their players because it was not negotiated with them.


Photo: Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire

14 comments about "U.S. Soccer anthem policy: Athlete Council and player associations call for repeal and apology".
  1. Bob Ashpole, June 9, 2020 at 8:49 a.m.

    Federal law actually requires a minimum of 20% of current amateur athletes, as defined by USSF. The exception allows former athletes who represented the US in amateur international competitions to count toward the minimum. The minimum applies to both the full board as well as to the board's voting membership. USSF records the professional/amateur status of all current athletes. 

    With transparency, there would be no question as to the playing status of the board members.

  2. Wallace Wade, June 9, 2020 at 10:29 a.m.

    The Athletes Council....

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2020 at 10:50 a.m.

    That is rather cryptic. The federal law is talking about individual board members, not who a board member represents. If that is what you are suggesting. Every board member is supposed to represent the interests of the organization. Labeling a member as a representative of athletes doesn't satisfy the law's requirement for members to be actual amateur athletes. Of course that is just a legal opinion, but the law is pretty clear. I doubt you would find many federal judges that would rule otherwise. 

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2020 at 10:55 a.m.

    I wonder why an organization dedicated to advancing an amatuer sport doesn't have a majority of actual amatuer athletes on its boards and commissions. The law doesn't just apply to the executive board, but also to "task forces" setting policies.

  5. R2 Dad, June 9, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.

    The change in USSF policy is the desired result. So why is an apology required? What is it they really want? Is this another litmus test?

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2020 at 6:11 p.m.

    The problem is that USSF appears to have committed an Unfair Labor Practice under the NLRA by changing policy affecting the workplace without prior consultation and bargaining. I suspect that is what the player's associations are complaining about.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2020 at 6:13 p.m.

    I should have added that when an employer is found to have committed a ULP, they have to post an admission which might be considered an apology.

  8. R2 Dad replied, June 11, 2020 at 10:58 p.m.

    CPC's comments made it clear it is all about apologizing to kneelers. Fine, that's how they want to play it, that's their call. However, in order to avoid offending those attending matches who don't agree--especially our veterans--it would be best to play something other than the SSB. I've heard America the Beautiful before at a game. I think that would be the least divisive solution, but no one seems interested in compromise these days.

  9. Leonard Greene, June 9, 2020 at 8:27 p.m.

    If Policy 604-1 was to have all the National team members stand during the playing of the national anthem and not protest by knealing, then why are the players wanting to recind this? Aren't they playing for the USA? If it does get recinded, then we shouldn't be supporting them monetarily, because they are not represesnting the USA in a favorable manner. Also, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which measn they are not supposed to be political and use the platform in such a way as to influence any politics. If this becomes political, then pull the 501(c)(3) and they can be for profit and do whatever they like, but without funding from the government.

  10. Santiago 1314 replied, June 10, 2020 at 8:01 p.m.

    @Leonard... They a want to Rescind it, because they are "WOKE". Especially the Men's Team.!!! Can't you tell by the way that "Wussed" Out in the Last Qualifications ...  "We" are NOT supporting USSF as A USA Government, except thru the Tax Break as a 501c3(maybe they got some PPP.???)... But NOT Going to games, NOT Buying Kit, and NOT Watching Matches on TV; IS FAIR Game.!!!

  11. Phil McGov ern, June 9, 2020 at 9:50 p.m.

    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."
    ...of National Anthems all countries,
    want to make a strong message have the US side and the opponent side if they are willing to support, which the world has shown they are, all take a knee just as the referee blows the whistle for the opening kickoff, that affects people at home watching on TV, effects the TV broadcast as we now have everyone's attention, sends a message loud and clear racism will not be tolerated.

  12. Santiago 1314 replied, June 10, 2020 at 12:24 a.m.

    Good idea, They could again kneel, BEFORE and AFTER the Playing Of The Anthems.!!!  Just Not During.!!!

  13. uffe gustafsson, June 11, 2020 at 9:27 p.m.

    Hey to all you that have issues.
    look up Mexico City Olympics 100 meter race.
    the 2 black Americans on the stand but also look at the silver medalist. An Australian guy who ran the run of his life. He wore a badge on his jersey in support of all people of color. There is a documentary of his life and it's not pretty. The white Australian never accepted him and austrisize him so he never ran a international race again though he qualified every time. That's really what we talking about.

  14. Ron Benson, June 12, 2020 at 11:19 p.m.

    Let them kneel , and take the hits ( comments , lack of spectators , Nike contracts , etc ...or accolades ...) 
    I am interested in their soccer skills . 

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