US Soccer Federation repeals no-kneel policy

By Brynn Sherbert, March 16, 2021

The United States Soccer Federation voted last month to end a ban on players protesting racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem late last month. The decision was made after the Black Lives Matter movement that swelled following the death of George Floyd last year.

CPP men’s and women’s soccer team will also have the choice to peacefully stand or kneel during the national anthem under the NCAA rules when competition returns to campus.

Men’s Head Coach Matt O’Sullivan emphasized the importance of the diversity of his team and respects his players choices in what makes them comfortable.

“I want my players to have their own opinions and decisions on whether they want to stand or kneel during the national anthem,” O’Sullivan said. “We all come from different backgrounds and cultures and I will support my players in their decisions.”

Players for the Utah Royals FC take a knee for the national anthem prior to their game against the Houston Dash during NWSL Challenge Cup at Zions Bank Stadium. (Courtesy of Rick Bowmer)

The U.S. women’s soccer team has built a reputation as one of the most social justice-oriented sports groups in the country by kneeling for the national anthem. The rule ordering players to stand respectfully during the national anthem was introduced in 2017 by the U.S. Soccer Federation shortly after US women’s star forward, Megan Rapinoe, kneeled for the anthem in solidarity with former NFL star quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick started kneeling on one knee during the national anthem in August 2016 to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality. This protest became an emblematic expression of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Senior Tori Morton, defensive player for the CPP women’s soccer team, strongly believes in peacefully protesting social injustices during the national anthem.

“As an athlete, showing your support for a cause or movement in front of the public can be difficult for players with receiving judgement from fans,” Morton said. “However, I think kneeling is a form of protest that causes no harm and shows a strong statement.”

Fighting against police brutality and racial inequality by taking a knee during the national anthem. (Courtesy of Michael Steele)

More than 70% of the members of the U.S. Soccer’s Federation ruling body voted to revoke the policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem and about 30% voted to keep the policy in place.

The policy was initially repealed in June 2020 by the federations’ board of directors after nationwide protests and needed approval from the national council for it to be official.

Kevin McCarthy, the men’s assistant coach, wants his players to have freedom of choice in their decisions and will provide moral support.

“Our team has had a lot of team meetings about this topic over the last year and we are all in an agreement that we will support one another in our decisions,” McCarthy said. “Our players respect each other on and off the field and that is why we have so much success as a team.”

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