The U.S Soccer Federation President Cindy Parlow Cone has apologised to players for a recently repealed policy that banned players from kneeling during the national anthem, admitting the ban “missed the point completely.”
The policy was implemented in early 2017 after Megan Rapinoe kneeled during national anthems in 2016, an action she made in solidarity with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, as part of a peaceful protest against police brutality and systemic racism.
At the time, Rapinoe said it was “something small she could do” to spark meaningful conversation.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” she said.
The move by the US Soccer Federation has already seen US President Donald Trump declare that he, “won’t be watching anymore”.
Get The Sporty Wrap in your inbox, our weekly update on women in sport
The U.S Soccer Federation’s board of directors voted to repeal the anti-kneel policy last week, a decision spurred on by the weeks of protests against racism and policy brutality, following the police killing of George Floyd. The federation now admits it has not done enough to listen to and acknowledge the experiences of people of colour.
The federation released a statement following the repeal of the policy that began with the line: “U.S. Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices.”
“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,” the statement said.
“We apologize to our players – especially our Black players – staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism.”
“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.”
Parlow Cone told ESPN that the federation “missed the point completely, it was never about the flag.”
She also said Rapinoe was great in discussions with the board prior to the repeal.
“(Megan) was great, she was collaborative and willing to communicate to the board and share her perspective, and I personally apologised to her for putting this policy into place.”
Before the appeal last week, the U.S women’s soccer team posted a statement to Twitter that said “the 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.”
“We believe the Federation should immediately repeal the ‘Anthem Policy’, publish a statement acknowledging the policy was wrong when it was adopted and issue and apology to our Black player 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.”
During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, Rapinoe said she’s learned its “always worth” taking a stand on important social issues.
“Use your voice in whatever way that you can, I truly believe that we all have a responsibility to make the world better.
“This country very much glorifies it’s athletes and it gives us this huge platform, so I’m going to leverage the platform for what I think is good.”
Love sport? We’re keeping it high on the agenda during the pandemic. Sign up to our new weekly newsletter, The Sporty Wrap, here.