• U.S. Soccer repeals its policy of requiring national team players to stand
  • It issued its support for Black Lives Matter and the fight against racial injustices
  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier issued an apology and support for kneeling protests

The Board of Directors of the United States Soccer Federation has voted to repeal a 2017 policy that required players of the U.S. national teams to stand when the national anthem was played.

The repeal comes as racial inequality and police brutality, which was the reason for the 2016 protests that had players kneeling during the national anthem in sports games, entered the national spotlight after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota while in police custody.

The policy known as Policy 604-1 essentially banned kneeling when “Star-Spangled Banner” was played after U.S. Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe did so.

Rapinoe was supporting Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who kneeled while the national anthem was played in his team’s games to protest issues of racial inequality and police brutality.

The policy, which required “all persons representing a Federation national team” to “stand respectfully” when the national anthem was played in a game where U.S. Soccer was represented was initially passed by its board of directors on Feb. 9, 2017.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer apologized to players, staff and fans as well as people “who support eradicating racism.” It also said it “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 read. “Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have.”

U.S. Soccer also promised to “do more” to address specific issues affecting its black and minority players. It also committed to allow its players “to determine how they can best use their platforms to fight all forms of racism, discrimination, and inequality.”

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone reportedly recommended the repeal of the policy during a special board meeting.

The repeal also follows an apology and a call for action from National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell apologized for not listening to concerns of African-American players in a video montage featuring star football players that asked the league to address systemic racism. In the same video, he also voiced support for the players’ right to peacefully protest.

Goodell’s video was released after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew backlash after criticizing kneeling protests in the NFL.