U.S. Women’s National Team Wants Anthem Protest Ban Repealed
In 2016, U.S. Women’s Soccer star player Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem, showing solidarity with then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem protesting racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. Months after Rapinoe knelt, U.S. Soccer instituted a policy which forced players to “stand respectfully” during the paying of the national anthem.
On Monday, amid the nationwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the USWNT issued a statement on Twitter, calling for this policy to be repealed. In their statement, the team said, “We believe the Federation should immediately repeal the ‘Anthem Policy,’ publish a statement acknowledging the policy was wrong when it was adopted, and issue an apology to our black players and supporters. Further, we believe the Federation should lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement that it tried to silence four years ago. Until USSF does so, the mere existence of the policy will continue to perpetuate the misconceptions and fear that clouded the true meaning and significance of Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe and other athletes taking a knee — that black people in America have not been and continue to not be afforded the same liberties and freedoms as white people and that police brutality and systemic racism exist in this country. This is everybody’s responsibility, including this union and its members; we could and should have done more in the past. We are committed to rising up against racist, hateful and unjust acts to effect change. Black lives matter.”
— USWNT Players (@USWNTPlayers) June 9, 2020
This statement by the team comes a day prior to a special board meeting by U.S. Soccer on Tuesday to discuss their anthem policy. It appears that some members of the board share the views of the USWNT. Steve Malik, who is on the board said while speaking with the Philadelphia Inquirer, said that there is an opportunity here to make history. “Being on the right side of history on this thing makes a lot of sense to me,” he said. “I think what’s happening in our country right now is an opportunity to really address systemic problems that have been there a long time. I think we all realize that we certainly have to allow, and frankly support, efforts to bring some justice to this equation … While this is the time that soccer has an opportunity to step up and be part of the solution, we all in our own individual way can contribute to that.”