U.S. Soccer board: 'We apologize to our players -- especially our black players -- staff, fans ...'

U.S. Soccer's board of directors voted on Tuesday afternoon to repeal Policy 604-1, which required national team players to stand respectfully during the national anthem.

The rescission takes effect immediately but is provisional, pending approval of the National Council at the 2021 AGM in Atlanta.

The New York Time reported that the vote was unanimous and came after discussion that included views from one representative each from the men's, women's and Paralympic teams and that those views on the ban and kneeling did not align.

In a February 2017 teleconference meeting, the federation board passed Policy 604-1 that requires players and team personnel to “stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented."

It came after U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the playing of the anthem prior to a match against Thailand in Columbus, Ohio, in 2016. She took a knee in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 2016.

U.S. Soccer's statement:

The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday afternoon to repeal Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem. The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality, and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in America. It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.

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.

It should be, and will be going forward, up to our players to determine how they can best use their platforms to fight all forms of racism, discrimination, and inequality. We are here for our players and are ready to support them in elevating their efforts to achieve social justice. We cannot change the past, but we can make a difference in the future. We are committed to this change effort, and we will be implementing supporting actions in the near future.

51 comments about "U.S. Soccer board: 'We apologize to our players -- especially our black players -- staff, fans ...'".
  1. Santiago 1314, June 10, 2020 at 9:17 p.m.

    "The Woke" are running the World... Maybe now that they are Not "Forced" to Stand, they will "Come Around" and see how Damaging to Sports, this Mix of Self-Flagilation and Politics IS....... I and MANY will be watching... the Moment the knee goes down during The National Anthem, is the Time to Change the Channel.!!!

  2. E Velazquez replied, June 11, 2020 at 8:27 a.m.

    excellent  !!

  3. Lorraine Sarnowski replied, June 11, 2020 at 2:14 p.m.

    Okay, drama queen.  

  4. R M replied, June 11, 2020 at 3:44 p.m.

    LOL...."The Woke"...such irony in this term. So "woke" they actually ignore the obvious and huge issues facing communities and instead succumb to group think propagated in sensationalized headlines and social media outrage. 

  5. Santiago 1314 replied, June 11, 2020 at 8:36 p.m.

    @Lorriane... Having been on the Field, in Various countries Representing USSF; Been “Peed On”, “Flames On the Field”, M-16s in the Hotel Rooms, Tanks On the Tarmac, Death Threat Warnings From CIA, .... All because of the Flag we Represented... I AM EMBARRASSED BY THIS "Capitulation"... Our Men’s Team is already A JOKE, for Not Qualifying for Last World Cup And Olympics... Now the Only Bright Spot in the Federation, USWNT, wants to “Tear the Country apart”, Even More, During THE NATIONAL ANTHEM OF THE FLAG THEY PLAY FOR.?!?!?... You OK with the u14 Knelling.??? So, Yeah, I EARNED my Drama.!!!

  6. uffe gustafsson replied, June 11, 2020 at 8:51 p.m.

    Change the channel to fox?
    you be right at home.
    though I always wondered why the National anthem was played during a domestic game?
    somehow the rest of the world use anthems for international games, 

  7. R2 Dad, June 10, 2020 at 9:34 p.m.

    I'm all for change, though I think USSF should be listening to parents and kids more than the professional players in that regard. However, I just cannot fathom how USSF will strive to "acheive social justice", when 50 different people have 50 different definitions of that phrase. If we don't know what it is, there is no possible way it can be reached. "Social Justice" just means perpetual dissatisfaction with whatever someone wants to complain about. Graat as a soundbite for the media, completely useless as a goal.

  8. Goal Goal, June 10, 2020 at 9:54 p.m.

    R2 they call that relativiism. That is why this country is in the shape it is now.  No one Had the soccer balls to stand up for what is right.     Believe it or not there is still right and wrong.  This is wrong.  If anyone can find something right about it let's hear it.

  9. Glenn Manning, June 11, 2020 at 7:26 a.m.

    My Soccer America Family:  I have been a loyal reader since 1991 when I attended my first game in Foxboro.  USA v Ireland.  Half, or more, of the 52,000 crowd belting out the Irish National Anthem.  (a leprechaun streaking across the field). Please know that I look forward to reading your awesome comments on soccer as I do reading the articles.  Your knowledge of the game at times amazes me.  So I have been attending US games, Mens & Womens, for almost 30 years.  All of you PLEASE: I know it's 11:38 minutes.  PLEASE click on this STAR SPANGLED BANNER AS YOU'VE NEVER HEARD IT      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaxGNQE5ZLA

    I RARELY RARELY comment, BUT obviously I feel strongly about this.

  10. Santiago 1314 replied, June 11, 2020 at 11:38 a.m.

    Very Nice, Glenn... Thanks

  11. Wallace Wade, June 11, 2020 at 8:04 a.m.

    When will the US Soccer Board "apologize" for kowtowing to NFL Billionaires and the failure to represent ALL soccer Leagues and Organizations in this Country? When will they open the Pyramid? 

  12. Steve M., June 11, 2020 at 8:33 a.m.

    This vote is a sad decision for US Soccer and our country.   Our country's flag and national anthem should be held in the highest regard by ALL Americans.  They represent the very freedom and free choice that everyone has to make their voices or ideas heard.   

    There are many ways to protest and to make a difference for anyone that chooses to, especially our nation's athletes.  But to do so by disprecting our country, that should not be negotiable.  The players have a choice to play or not play for our Country, if they disagree with standing for our Nation.  This is not the example I want my children to follow and if US soccer continues in this direction, unfortunately, I will find other aveneues to occupy my time.   

  13. Peter Kurilecz, June 11, 2020 at 8:49 a.m.

    what we are seeing these days is nothing more than Mao's Cultural Revolution on display. Our leaders are kowtowing to the vocal minority.

  14. Wooden Ships replied, June 11, 2020 at 10:09 a.m.

    Stalin as well, erasing the past both in symbols and history. This isn't a systemic issue as so many believe, it's a leadership issue in places and organizations that tacitly approve by not holding wrong doers accountable. Now, that we have injected VAR (because I can't handle being wronged) we will be the only country that might not stand for our anthem. Bravo, if we don't have the skilled players to win a World Cup at least we can win this game. Thank you public education for producing enough identity narcissists that when we look into the mirror we no longer see what's reflected.

  15. Alvaro Bettucchi, June 11, 2020 at 10:33 a.m.

    In soccer, teams have players from all over the world. Play the national anthem like the rest of the soccer world, only when we face teams from other countries. When two local teams face eachother, play the team song. 

  16. Wooden Ships replied, June 11, 2020 at 11:01 a.m.

    Agreed Alvaro. In National team games anthem while standing like every other nation. If any player is ashamed don't don the uni. Besides, if they are emotionally harmed so is their max focus and effort. 

  17. Nick Gabris, June 11, 2020 at 10:56 a.m.

    Play the national anthem prior to players coming out? NFL used to do that years ago and no one complained!

  18. Santiago 1314 replied, June 11, 2020 at 11:52 a.m.

    I got no Problem with that; it's Really for the Fans anyway... It's kind of Strange to See MLS and MLB Teams With few American Passport Holders, have to Stand for Our Anthem... US National Team; IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.!!!

  19. John Polis, June 11, 2020 at 12:03 p.m.

    As a combat zone veteran I just say this. When you co-opt the national anthem for a personal reason -- even though you mean no harm to anyone -- you needlessly inflict collateral damage on familys of veterans who died in wars, veterans who served and many who received horrible wounds, and other who have through the years help defend the nation. To them, the flag is sacred. It's the central focal point of every military base. One ofthe first things you are taught when you go in is how to salute. Why hurt the widow of a deceased veteran by kneeling down during a song that they hold so sacred, and one that every time they hear it reminds them of their deceased loved one? I know we all have the right to protest. Go ahead and protest. Just find another time and place. I wish they would just leave the anthem alone.

  20. John Foust replied, June 11, 2020 at 3:56 p.m.

    John Polis, you expressed my sentiments exactly.  The black community has had a horrible ride over the centuries, no doubt, but as Shelby Steele, noted black activitist and civil rights author recently said, "blacks have never been less oppressed than they are today."  So we're imperfect.  We can do better.  But dissing those who have sacrificed - including blacks! - does nothing but divide us further and will not change anyone's heart.  As a Navy veteran, I will not support anyone not standing for the flag.  So those players will hear from me, as they disrespect my shipmates who died to protect their right to be a jerk, and jerks need to be clled out.  There's a huge spiritual component to this discussion also, for that's for another day ...

  21. Santiago 1314 replied, June 11, 2020 at 8:09 p.m.

    @John... Thanks for your Service and for your Service to USSF...I know this Board Decision hurts you as much as it does me... I can only hope that The Players, Come to their Senses And NOT Take A KNEE... There is already so Much Anti-Soccer Sentiment in this Country... Especially after the "Whimpy" Men didn't Qualify for World Cup, If the Women start Dropping to their Knees, Soccer will be Back in the Dark Ages.!!!

  22. Alan Blackledge, June 11, 2020 at 12:23 p.m.

    I will now choose to stop supporting US Soccer. It is absurd to me that a player is on the National Team, and is so ashamed of that country that they'll kneel against it in public rather than "protest" by not representing. They want the "economic" benefits of representing...what lack of backbone by the Federation. Being a devils advocate...does this mean a pro Trump player can wear a MAGA hat, etc...where's the protest "line" in the sand...

  23. Mike Anderson, June 11, 2020 at 12:42 p.m.

    I believe that while we don’t always execute to perfection, the idea of America is firmly grounded in the natural human rights of man, and is the greatest idea for governing a sovereign nation in human history. I believe the core ideas presented in both the Declaration of Independence and in the US Constitution (in its amended form) put them among the greatest human rights documents ever. Is this somehow debatable? The flag clearly represents these ideals. To reject them makes no sense. 

  24. R2 Dad replied, June 11, 2020 at 1:19 p.m.

    Progressives have been trying for 100 years to figure a way to cobble together a majority to overturn your interpretation of Natural Rights and the Constitution. Progressives believe majority rights should trump your right to express a minority opinion they find disagreeable. In November we will see just where that leads us as a nation. Strap in, we're in for a bumpy ride.

  25. Mike Anderson replied, June 11, 2020 at 4:20 p.m.

    R2 Dad and Mark Smith and others...not a single progressive in this country understands what I just said. Hence the problem. Cheers.

  26. Bob Ashpole replied, June 14, 2020 at 12:53 p.m.

    Mike, spot on regarding the political philosophy. A fine point--in our philosophy the rights were given by the creator rather than by nature. Where you miss is in 1) thinking the protests are aimed at the flag and at the anthem rather than against racism and 2) thinking kneeling is disrespectful. The anti-racism nature of the protests is well understood, even I suspect by you. Kneeling is a universal sign of respect and homage, which should be recognized by everyone.

  27. Santiago 1314 replied, June 14, 2020 at 3:48 p.m.

    @Bob, we all know you are the Lawyer on the site; But don't try to BS us either... NFL.com ""I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game."

  28. Santiago 1314 replied, June 14, 2020 at 3:48 p.m.

    @Bob, we all know you are the Lawyer on the site; But don't try to BS us either... NFL.com ""I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game."

  29. Mark Smith, June 11, 2020 at 1:57 p.m.

    The flag is a symbol for the nation and the ideas the nation was built on. If you protest the flag you are protesting the principles and ideals that form the basis  for the Unites States. So kneelers tell what you disagree with:

    • All men are created equal

    • liberty and justice for all

    • all men have certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Are there injustices in the US?  Yes, without a doubt. Man is an imperfect being and always will be.  The best we can hope for is a system that recognizes these imperfections and attempts to address them whenever they occur.

    If you want to protest injustices when they occur, then I support you 100%, but do not protest the symbol of the country that gives you the right to protest and declares everyone deserves justice.  When you protest the flag you say you do not want justice for all.  Men are not created equal. And, not everyone has unalienable Rights.

    When you protest the flag you state you do not believe in the principles and ideals of the United States.  I WILL NOT support you or anyone who condones this behavior.

  30. Goal Goal, June 11, 2020 at 2:15 p.m.

    If in fact this happens where we have kneelers during the anthem and the game is here in the US I would like to see the fans due one of two things when the anthem is finished,  Walk out  or turn their back to the field for at least the first half.

    TIME TO TAKE A STAND FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Dan Gautieri, June 11, 2020 at 4:38 p.m.

    Does "especially our black players" mean that they're apologizing "less" to Megan Rapinoe? She was the player best known for taking a knee.

  32. Larry Blake, June 11, 2020 at 4:40 p.m.

    Most people would say that freedom is one of the most important ideals of the United States. The U.S. is a country with certain ideals. It's not a flag. It's not music. When someone actually displays his freedom to comment, we should all be glad that he or she can do so in this country.

  33. Alan Blackledge replied, June 11, 2020 at 7:24 p.m.

    There is a time and place for protesting...again, if a player truly feels that strongly, don't play, don't represent. By the way, every international game I have attended the fans tend to stand for BOTH anthems as a sign of respect...doesn't mean you agree with the ideals of the other nation. You are respecting them. We are attempting to create a more perfect union...since the nation is made up of people and people are imperfect, we will never BE perfect. We can call out those imperfections and work on them...protesting in this case is more about political ideology than the supposed issues being claimed... particularly by the loudest players...

  34. Tim Hargrave, June 11, 2020 at 5:03 p.m.

    Plaudits to the NWSL for doing the most American of things: honoring players' First Amendment rights. Rather than restricting freedom, as some in this thread have suggested, the NWSL has protected and expanded it. If you love standing for the national anthem you may continue to enjoy do so, and you can also revel in the fact that you live in a place where others are allowed to have a different view. That's what makes America great, and it's what the NWSL recognizes. 

  35. Mike Anderson replied, June 11, 2020 at 7:26 p.m.

    Remember the First Amendment regards the relationship between government and citizens; not an employer and employee. If my employer feels my actions damage their brand by 'turning off' their customers, I'd expect to be fired and it would have nothing to do with First Amendment rights. On the other hand, if customers appreciate my antics, I'd expect my employer to support me. It's pretty simple really. 

  36. Santiago 1314 replied, June 11, 2020 at 8:27 p.m.

    @Tim, What I can Do... Is Choose to Spend my MONEY and My Time On Events that Don't Insult My USSF Service, My Father and My Sons Military Service... When the Knee goes Down, I'll change the Channel and STOP Buying Tickets, And Kits.!!!

  37. Ken Fadner replied, June 12, 2020 at 7 a.m.

    I agree with you Tim.

  38. Ken Fadner replied, June 12, 2020 at 7:07 a.m.

    Mike Anderson:
    ... and the employer here has decided to repect the employees' First Amendment rights. Some of the fans will be upset at that. Some will applaud that. Some will not have any strong opinion. I'm pretty sure it is a small minority who will be upset. So should the employer kowtow to a small minority or respect its employees' rights as Americans?

  39. Derek Mccracken, June 11, 2020 at 6:47 p.m.

    I have been a US Soccer fan for decades. I played in little league, high school and college. Since I spent some of my childhool years in South America, I fell in love with the sport and transfered that love when I moved to the U.S. I also grew to love this country as, despite it's warts and pimples, one of the greatest countries in the history of the world.

    That's why I'm saddened to see that USSF has taken the stance to repeal it's 'no-kneeling' rule.

    Police brutality and racism has no place in our country and should be completely eliminated. However, it is an extremely small percent of police that abuse their powers like this and the protest basically create a strawman that does not exist when they kneel and make it seem like a much more widespread, systemic problem than it actually it.

    It's as if, of the 1700 NFL players, there were 2 wife-beaters and, as a result, I kneeled at the league's games to protest ALL of the players and wore socks that showed NFL'ers beating their wives with an aim to give an illusion that it's a prevalent problem amongst players, and not something that occurs with MUCH less than 1% of the players. Don't get me wrong, wife abuse is extremely wrong and anyone doing it should be jailed for a loooong time. But, when it's happening MUCH less than 1% of the time, why would I try to make it seem like it's a serious systemic issue? Ridiculous, no? That what Kap did in the NFL and that what his puppets, like Rapinoe, did to help perpetuate this myth. Again, racism and police brutality are bad, but it's not a prevalent, systemic issue within the police force in the U.S. Should bad appled be weeded out? Absolutely!

    But, the USSF should be ashamed it has buckled to incorrect public opinion.

    As for me, as many national team games as I've attended in the past few decades, I'm much less likely to ever attend another USSF game, ever. It has lost my complete respect. 

  40. Santiago 1314 replied, June 11, 2020 at 8:21 p.m.

    Yes, "Phil"... I Agree

  41. Gordon Holt, June 11, 2020 at 10:10 p.m.

    Honestly, Paul, I never until reading these comments did  I realize that some of your readers and regular "commentators " are as bone-headed as they appear to be on the matter of simply  taking a knee in support of morality. Fortunately organized soccer has awakened if these chaps have not. 

  42. Wooden Ships replied, June 12, 2020 at 2:30 a.m.

    Gordon your a Woke Dope. It's you that doesn't understand and SA is an embolder. You support this bs like a petulant arrested/stunted development individual. Im
    betting you've never had skin in any game. Perhaps I'm reading this all wrong and you're a martyr and I should get on my knees and ask for you to lead me in enlightenment. Sheep. With all due respect. 

  43. Ken Fadner, June 12, 2020 at 7:01 a.m.

    I agree with you Gordon.

  44. Gordon Holt replied, June 12, 2020 at 12:22 p.m.

    Thanks, Ken. 

  45. Tom Mara, June 12, 2020 at 9:14 a.m.

    OMG! Rapinoe should apologize for her foul-mouth, drunken behavior after the World Cup during the NYC celebration; and the US Soccer Association should apologize to the US supportors for how they collectively dismantled the US U-23 thru U-17 youth program. I've heard they did not even interview Tab Ramos for the USMNT coach position.

  46. uffe gustafsson, June 12, 2020 at 8:05 p.m.

    Wooden ship
    dont use trump language as in make people feel less.
    Calling someone a dope is trump style talk.
    this is starting to be kindergarten stuff.
    i have always taking the stand of not following the pledge of allegiance since I have issues of the word god in it. You have all the rights to do it as well I have the right not to. I always had the issue of little kids do the pledge and be introducted to the word god.
    you wanna talk about sheep? That's exactly how it works, you been led down the road of sheep's and as a kid you don't know the difference.
    but as an adult with a grown mind you might feel differents. So as an adult your mind works differently and if taking a knee as in making a statement is just that, not opposing your country but enlighten other to injustice. For that matter this country got out of Vietnam by people burning the flag to say stop that madness. And stop this I'm a veteran and my flag is somehow holy. It was not in the sixties and still not.
    you do bad things to people your flag is not the one in pain.

  47. frank schoon replied, June 13, 2020 at 8:12 a.m.

    Uffe , I don't why you have to refer to Trump language or Fox news,it tellls me you have some other problems to work out. This discussion should be about protesting while representing your country, and the flag you play under.  It can be easily solved by those who want to protest. If you are not happy and you want to protest against your country than DON'T play for your country that represents the flag. For if you feel that strongly about it than don't go half way but TRULY express how you feel, DON'T PLAY! Period.....I can respect that.

    But this "kneeling" crap  to me is having your cake and eating it too. A true protest, is expressing your deepest and honest feeling by REFUSING an invitation to play for the NATIONAL TEAM. Lets see how many have the guts to do that.....

  48. Bob Ashpole, June 14, 2020 at 1:01 p.m.

    I am tired of this false patriotic rejection of protests. 1. Everyone knows the kneelers are protesting racism, not the flag or the anthem. 2. Everyone knows that kneeling is a universal sign of respect and homage.

    In my view protesting in front of TV cameras during the national anthem is poor judgment (but it is effective). I, however, don't need to resort to false attacks on the kneelers patriotism to make my point. 

  49. Ken Fadner replied, June 14, 2020 at 1:16 p.m.

    What you said, Bob Ashpole.

  50. Santiago 1314, June 14, 2020 at 4:03 p.m.

    @Bob and Ken, seeing as you Re-Stated your argument, that kneeling is "Universal sign of Respect"... Remember that ISIS made people kneel, Before they BeHeaded them.. As do the Drug Lords in Mexico... it's also a Sign of the Vanquised... and Kaepernick made it clear what HE was Kneeling: NFL.com ""I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game." ...No Pride in the Flag... I wonder if when we play China, if the US Team will "Take a Knee" to Protest the Oppression Of 2 Million Muslims or the  7.5 million in Hong Kong... Massive Protests in France, England... Megan gonna Take a Knee against their Flag.!!! I don't think so... See the Double Standard.???

  51. Santiago 1314, June 14, 2020 at 4:19 p.m.

    And Bob, The knelling by Kaepernick and Rapinoe was NOT EFFECTIVE... They started in 2016, and NOTHING HAD CHANGED, until the 2020 Murder, On Video, Of George Floyd over a Counterfeit $20 Bill(But that's a Much Deeper story for other Websites)... They had the Correct Issue, but they HURT the Cause more than they Helped it by Kneeling During the National Anthem... I like what Marcelo did today, Kneeling AFTER he Scored a GOL.... kneel BEFORE the Anthem, Kneel AFTER the Anthem...Both Teams Kneel, for 8.46 seconds after Kick-Off... Stop The Game at 8:46 Mark... Both Teams Wear Undershirts with BLM or George Floyd Picture on them, Take Off The Game Shirt...Ref CANT give everyone a Yellow Card... HeLL they should join IN... So many ways this can be Promoted as a Unifying Moment, instead of a Divisive One.

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