US Soccer to review 'no kneeling' anthem policy

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Atlanta United's Josef Martinez kneels after scoring a goal as teammate Gonzalo "Pity" Martínez congratulates him (Getty Images)
Atlanta United's Josef Martinez kneels after scoring a goal as teammate Gonzalo "Pity" Martínez congratulates him (Getty Images)

The United States Soccer Federation is considering scrapping a rule which bans players from kneeling during the national anthem, officials confirmed on Monday, as the US women's team criticised the body for implementing the policy in the first place.

USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone called for the policy to be discussed at a board meeting due to take place on Tuesday, ESPN reported on its website.

A USSF spokesperson later confirmed the federation was considering repealing the policy.

In a controversial move, US Soccer introduced a rule in 2017 which formally states that players must "stand respectfully" during the national anthem.

It came after US women's team star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the anthem at an international in 2016.

Rapinoe took a knee in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The US women's soccer team called on the USSF to "immediately repeal" the policy and to "apologize" to their black players.

"We believe that 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," the United States Women's National Team Players Association said in a statement on Monday.

"Further, we believe the Federation should lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement it tried to silence four years ago."

Kaepernick had begun kneeling during the anthem in August 2016 in order to draw attention to racial injustice following the deaths of several unarmed black men during confrontations with police.

Kaepernick's kneeling protest has become an emblematic expression of solidarity adopted during the recent demonstrations across the United States and around the world since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

Protesters and police officers have all taken a knee during the protests while sports stars in Germany's Bundesliga have all kneeled before recent matches.

Players from English Premier League giants Liverpool also knelt in a photo distributed through the club's social media channels last week.

ESPN said if US Soccer's board votes to repeal the policy, it would take effect immediately but would still need to be voted on at the federation's annual meeting next year.

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