U.S. Soccer's Athletes Council removed member Seth Jahn
one day after he made remarks at the National Council Meeting.
He was one of several federation members to speak in opposition of repealing Policy 604-1
requiring athletes and staff to stand respectfully for the national anthem. But his remarks, which lasted almost seven minutes, were quickly denounced by other members of the Athletes Council and by the federation, which in a statement on Saturday night termed them "offensive." (With more than 71 percent of the weighted vote, the policy was repealed, affirming the decision by U.S. Soccer's board of directors last June.)
Jahn's remarks addressed issues of police brutality ("a narrative with relatively zero data to substantiate it") and slavery of Blacks ("Every race in the history of mankind has been enslaved by another demographic at some point in time") and generally what he described as the "politicization of sport."
U.S. women’s national team captain Becky Sauerbrunn
, one of 20 current and former players on the Athletes Council, issued a statement on Saturday night that the remarks made by Jahn “moved beyond a difference of opinion on policy, and into disinformation and offensive rhetoric."
The Athletes' Council expelled Jahn for violation of the federation's Prohibited Conduct Policy prohibiting harassment on the basis of race, religion or national origin. In the statement released by Athletes Council chairman Chris Ahrens
, the body found Jahn had “violated the prohibited conduct's policy section on harassment, which prohibits racial or other harassment based upon a person's protected status (race), including any verbal act in which race is used or implied in a manner which would make a reasonable person uncomfortable. The Athletes Council does not tolerate this type of language and finds it incompatible with membership on the council. While the council understands that each person has a right to his or her own opinion, there are certain opinions that go beyond the realm of what is appropriate or acceptable.”
Jahn, 38, captained of the U.S. Soccer 7-a-side Paralympic team at the 2016 Rio Games and was elected to a four-year term on the Athletes Council by other athletes in November. He worked on security for the U.S. women's national team at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France and attended the men's national team camp in Wales in November 2020.
Jahn, a wounded veteran of 11 years in the U.S. Army, is former counterintelligence special agent and serves as an undercover counter-child sex trafficking operative in Central and South America.
The Athletes' Council consists of 20 players who have represented the USA internationally. By federal law, the Athletes' Council must represent 20 percent of the membership and hold 20 percent of the seats on the board of directors and federation committees. A new law, signed by President Donald Trump
in 2020, will increase that percentage to 33.3 percent. Just how U.S. Soccer changes its voting structure is something it is grappling with.
With 20 percent of the vote, the Athletes' Council is a powerful bloc in U.S. Soccer politics. With 33.3 percent, it will become the dominant council.