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Reports: US Soccer council repeals rule requiring players to stand for national anthem

The federation's board of directors voted last summer to rescind the policy, but it still required approval from the body's national council.
Credit: AP
USA's Megan Rapinoe kneels as the national anthem is played before a match against Netherlands Sept. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The U.S. Soccer Federation's National Council on Saturday voted to repeal its policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem, according to reports. The USSF board of directors scrapped the policy last year, but it still required the approval of the council.

ESPN.com and France24 report the decision was approved by 71% of the council. 

The policy, 604-1, was enacted in 2017, a rule adopted after U.S. Women's National Team star Megan Rapinoe kneeled in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player credited with launching the protest form among athletes. The policy stated “All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”

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The board of directors reversed course last June, saying “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."

ESPN reports most of the comments at Saturday's virtual meeting of the council were against repealing the ban. USSF president Cindy Parlow reportedly told the group that the policy was not intended to disrespect the flag or military.

"This is about the athletes' and our staff's right to peacefully protest racial inequalities and police brutality," she said, according to ESPN. "So I urge our membership to please support our staff and our athletes on this policy."

The vote also comes three days after players for the U.S. women's national team announced their decision to move on from kneeling during the anthem and instead focus on behind-the-scenes work to address racial inequity. Insider reports Rapinoe stood for the anthem Wednesday night before the final of the SheBelieves Cup. It's believed to be the first time Rapinoe stood for the anthem since the board's decision last June.

Credit: AP
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58) kneel during the playing of the National anthem before the first half of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.