In her first statement since U.S. Soccer's board voted to repeal its controversial anthem policy, federation president Cindy Parlow Cone said in an interview on ESPN FC Daily on Thursday that
the policy had "missed the point completely."
At a February 2017
teleconference meeting, the board passed Policy 604-1 -- confirmed the next month by the National Council -- that required players and team personnel to “stand respectfully during the playing of
national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented."
"We missed the point completely -- it was never about the flag," Parlow Cone said on the ESPN show. "It was and is
about fighting police brutality and the racial injustices in our society. It is about seeing, believing and standing with our black and minority communities to fight these injustices."
She said she understood how people might feel kneeling is disrespectful to the flag and there will be some backlash because that's how she was in February 2017 when she was on the board as one of
three representatives from the Athlete Council and voted for Policy 604-1. She said her father served in Vietnam and has a brother who served in Iraq.
"While I personally choose to
continue to stand for the national anthem and use my voice in other ways, I feel others have the right to kneel," Parlow Cone said Thursday.
The anthem policy was adopted 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 to condemn police
brutality toward black Americans and in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Cone said the recent protests "galvanized" the board on the issue. It met virtually on Tuesday afternoon and heard from three players -- Rapinoe from the women's national team
and unnamed players from the men's and Paralympic programs -- to address differing views on the issue.
"I personally apologized to [Rapinoe] for putting this policy into place," Parlow
Parlow Cone, who became president on March 12 following the resignation of Carlos Cordeiro, is one of five voting board members who were on the board when it unanimously
approved Policy 604-1.
The others were MLS commissioner Don Garber and Chris Ahrens, John Motta and Tim Turney, who represent the Athlete, Adult and Youth