It is no longer illegal for soccer stars to take a kneel while reciting the national anthem of the United States of America during a pre-match ceremony. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has lifted the ban earlier placed on such an act. This is coming in the wake of the widespread agitation against racism and police brutality across America and other parts of the world.
The ban on kneeling while the national anthem is being recited was introduced in 2017 after Megan Rapinoe, US female soccer national team captain, knelt in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, NFL player, who was protesting police brutality and racial injustice in 2016.
However, the ban didn’t stop some star players, like Megan Rapinoe, to still do it in order to express their agitations against racial discrimination and police brutality against African-American in President Donald Trump’s country.
The practice which is seen as a ‘disrespect’ to the American anthem and flag has become a practice that President Trump has always kicked against. It has also become one of the symbols of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, June 9) to repeal Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem”, the USSF said in a statement.
“It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.
“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.
“We apologise to our players – especially our Black players – staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism. Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues and we will.”
The debate against Racial discrimination and police brutality have become so pronounced since an African-American, George Floyd, was murdered by police officers in their custody. The ugly incident took place in broad daylight and was filmed by passersby.
Though the policemen involved have been dismissed, arrested and facing trial, agitators are still on the streets fighting for the eradication of what they call “systemic racism”.
Football clubs like Liverpool football club, Chelsea football club and Arsenal have joined the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a kneel on their training turf. Players like Jadon Sancho, Paul Pogba Raheem Sterling, and Odion Ighalo, have also added their voices in support of peaceful agitation.
World football governing body, FIFA, has urged football federations across the world to be lenient with players that are expressing themselves in socio-political issues like racism.