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President Trump says he will not watch U.S. Soccer

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President Trump has revealed he will not watch US national soccer teams due to the decision by US Soccer to repeal their anthem policy for the USMNT and USWNT.

[ MORE: Reaction to new anthem policy ]

In 2017 the US Soccer Federation (USSF) decide to bring in an policy which forced players from both the USWNT and USMNT to stand for the anthem after Megan Rapinoe took a knee to join Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and inequality in the Black community in the United States of America.

Trump sent out the following Tweets late Saturday:

Trump also shared the thoughts of Republican Matt Gaetz who said: “I’d rather the US not have a soccer team than have a soccer team that won’t stand for the National Anthem. You shouldn’t get to play under our flag as our national team if you won’t stand when it is raised.”

Gaetz also added “I don’t care enough about soccer to have a US Soccer team that disrespects the flag they play under” and he wants to pass a bill that requires the teams to stand for the national anthem. 

“If players are playing for our national team…they should stand for the anthem, they should respect our flag,” Gaetz said.

U.S. Soccer repeals policy requiring players to stand during anthem

U.S. Soccer kneeling during anthem
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The United States Soccer Federation’s Board of Directors has voted to repeal Policy 604-1, which required players to stand during the national anthem.

The policy was put in place in 2017 after Megan Rapinoe knelt in peaceful protest of police brutality and the oppression of people of color in the United States, inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Rapinoe first knelt with her NWSL team, the Seattle Reign, and the Washington Spirit played the anthem early so she could not kneel before a match. She then knelt in a USWNT kit and the federation put in the policy, which Rapinoe respected.

[ MORE: New PL schedule ]

The issue of taking a knee has been raised again thanks to widespread protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin and three other officers were arrested and charged.

Athletes all over the world have spoken out against racism and police brutality since the incident, with the Black Lives Matter movement echoing across the world. Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, an American, put out an emotional video with some of the biggest names in American soccer saying “Enough is enough” interspersed with violent video of police encounters with black people.

Many Premier League teams and players have been issuing anti-racism statements on a daily basis, and Bundesliga stars such as Jadon Sancho, Marcus Thuram, and Achraf Hakimi worked protests into goal celebrations. At the Werder Bremen v. Wolfsburg match, American players John Brooks and Josh Sargent (pictured above) took a knee with their teams before kickoff.

Major League Soccer announced that it would support players’ rights to kneel during the anthem at matches this season. Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt said he would be taking a knee when the Premier League returns next week.

The policy was put in place under a different leadership group for U.S. Soccer, and the federation’s statement on the repeal is very clear with CEO Will Wilson (not a board member) and president Cindy Parlow Cone presiding over the operation. A spokesman for U.S. Soccer could not share whether the vote was unanimous as it was conducted in executive session.

The USWNT requested Monday that the USSF repeal the policy.

The USSF board includes Parlow Cone, Carlos Bocanegra, Lori Lindsey, Chris Ahrens, Steve Malik, Don Garber, Richard Moeller, John Motta, Pete Zopfi, Tim Turney, and Mike Cullina.

Here is the full statement:

The U.S. Soccer Federation affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices.

The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday afternoon to repeal Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem. The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality, and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in America. 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 apologize 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.

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.

U.S. Soccer Federation chief legal officer Lydia Wahlke quits

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CHICAGO — Lydia Wahlke has resigned as chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation, two months after she was placed on administrative leave.

The federation announced her departure in a note to staff Thursday and said she will be a consultant through Sept. 15.

Wahlke was put on leave after USSF president Carlos Cordeiro resigned March 12 and was replaced by former national team player Cindy Parlow Cone, who had been vice president. Parlow Cone said the USSF legal process will be reviewed.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The shakeup occurred after the law firm representing the USSF in a lawsuit by women’s national team players filed papers in federal court claiming the women’s team didn’t have the physical abilities or the same responsibilities as the men’s team. That sparked a furor that included an on-field protest by players wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out to hide the USSF crest. The federation then changed its law firm in the case.

Parlow Cone says she hopes to settle the suit by players, who asked for more than $66 million in damages.

“It should be clear that while Carlos Cordeiro did not review or approve of the offensive language in the filing, by personally resigning he decided to put the best interest of U.S. Soccer first,” Parlow Cone said in a statement.

A judge did not allow the players’ claim of discriminatory wages to go to trial, a decision players have asked for permission to appeal. Their claim of discriminatory working conditions remains scheduled for trial starting Sept. 15.

U.S. Soccer Federation, Foundation reach agreement after lawsuit

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The U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation look to have put their struggles behind them for now.

The foundation was suing the federation after the latter asked the former to stop using its name and logo. The not-for-profit foundation was started in 1994 with the funds leftover after the United States hosted the World Cup.

The parties issued a joint statement on Friday, agreeing to a settlement.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

From USSoccer.com:

We have come to an agreement that we believe is in the best interest for the sport in the United States. As we move forward, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation will work together to provide access and opportunities for all soccer players across the country, particularly those in low-income communities and others in need.

Being sued by, essentially, its own foundation was one of myriad terrible looks for a stuck-in-the-mud U.S. Soccer Federation over the past couple of years.

New leadership has found a much-needed victory in settling the suit as the federation battles a precarious financial situation made worse by another in-family lawsuit from the USWNT. It’s already canceled the development academy, giving MLS a front-row seat in the youth soccer arena.

Hopefully they’ll work with the foundation to truly take care of the underserved soccer community, away from the pay-to-play model.

USWNT file motion to appeal in equal pay fight

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The United States women’s national team has filed a motion in a bid to move along a judgment in their unequal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, and to delay the trial currently set for June 16.

The motion comes one week after the suit was dismissed by a judge in a blow for the USWNT.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge favored the federation in a summary judgment, saying that the USWNT’s claim that they were being paid less than the USMNT was insufficient to warrant a trial.

The USMNT has backed its peers on the women’s side, and presidential candidate Joe Biden has also placed himself in their corner.

Here is a statement from Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the USWNT players in their lawsuit:

“Equal pay means paying women players the same rate for winning a game as men get paid. The argument that women are paid enough if they make close to the same amount as men while winning more than twice as often is not equal pay. The argument that maternity leave is some sort of substitute for paying women players the same rate for winning as men is not valid, nor fair, nor equal. The argument that women gave up a right to equal pay by accepting the best collective bargaining agreement possible in response to the Federation’s refusal to put equal pay on the table is not a legitimate reason for continuing to discriminate against them. Today, we are filing a motion to allow us to appeal immediately the district court’s decision so that the Ninth Circuit will be able to review these claims.”

We’ve written several times that a settlement to get this out of the news is an ideal move for the federation, who may be feeling a court victory is likely. New CEO Will Wilson inherited mess and could use good news in a big way but the fed is also reportedly struggling for cash.