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
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.