U.S. Soccer

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USWNT told to wait until 2021 for jury trial

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LOS ANGELES — If USWNT players want a jury trial on their claim of discriminatory working conditions, they must wait until next year.

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U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner told the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday that jurors were not available during the novel coronavirus pandemic. He informed the sides if they wanted to stick with their Sept. 15 trial date, they would have to agree by Aug. 6 to a bench trial in which he would decide the verdict.

If the USWNT want a jury trial, he would postpone the start until Jan. 26.

“The players are confident that they will prevail at trial and are considering the options presented by the court for proceeding,” players’ spokeswoman Molly Levinson said in a statement.

Players sued in March 2019 under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and they sought more than $66 million in damages.

Klausner ruled May 1 that the women could not prove discrimination over pay and granted in part the USSF’s motion for a partial summary judgment. He said the union for the women’s national team rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the men’s national team’s collective bargaining agreement and the women accepted guaranteed salaries and greater benefits along with a different bonus structure.

He also refused to let go to trial allegations the women were discriminated against because they played more games on artificial turf.

Klausner left intact claims the USSF discriminated in its use of charter aircraft, and in the money it spent on commercial airfare, hotel accommodations, and medical and training support services.

USMNT, USWNT react to U.S. Soccer anthem policy repeal

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The United States Soccer Federation’s Board of Directors voted to repeal Policy 604-1, which required players to stand during the national anthem, and players and key figures surrounding the USMNT and USWNT have shared their reaction.

The anthem policy was put in place by US Soccer 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.

On Monday the USWNT requested that the USSF repeal the policy. The USSF board who made the decision to repeal the policy includes Parlow Cone, Carlos Bocanegra, Lori Lindsey, Chris Ahrens, Steve Malik, Don Garber, Richard Moeller, John Motta, Pete Zopfi, Tim Turney, and Mike Cullina. It has been reported that the decision was not unanimous.

As for the reaction, the USMNT posted a statement on their Instagram page on the anthem policy change and USMNT and Man City goalkeeper Zack Steffen (currently on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf) posted a comment as the comments section was full of angry commenters who were against the decision.

“These comments are sad man… this doesn’t mean we will definitely kneel during the anthem. This just means that they are living up to what our flag stands for and what our first amendment clearly states, which is the freedom of speech and to peacefully protest. We will do something together as a team to support this movement because too many people still don’t understand,” Steffen said.

Aside from Steffen’s comments, there hasn’t been too much reaction from other players yet but most have already called for the repeal of this anthem policy as the US Soccer athletes’ council called for the anthem policy to change earlier this week.

“Then and only then do we feel a new chapter between the USSF and its athletes can begin. Additionally, we urge US Soccer to develop a plan with action items focused on anti-racism that will be shared publicly with its athletes, key stakeholders, and fans.”

Here’s a look at the reaction from key figures on the decision from US Soccer.

There have also been reports that MLS will not play the national anthem before games at its Orlando tournament from July to August this summer, while the NWSL will play the national anthem before its summer tournament in Utah which kicks off later this month.

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.

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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.

MLS statement on players kneeling for anthem

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MLS has released a statement on players from the USA and Canada kneeling during the national anthem played before games.

The top-tier of soccer in North America has moved to “reiterate a longstanding position supporting players’ right to peacefully protest during national anthems before games” and adds that MLS commissioner Don Garber supports players’ freedom of expression.

Following Colin Kaepernick starting the protest against police brutality in the USA by kneeling during the national anthems in 2016, USWNT and NWSL star Megan Rapinoe followed suit.

Both have been heavily criticized and U.S. Soccer added an ‘Anthem Policy’ for both the women’s and men’s national teams saying they should stand for the anthem. That policy is something that is due to be removed as the USWNT have asked U.S. Soccer to do so and for an apology to be issued to players and staff.

Here is the statement from MLS on their current stance on kneeling during the national anthem:

“While fostering an environment of diversity, equality and inclusion, Major League Soccer stands by the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest that are the hallmarks of the United States and Canada. If players or staff decide to stand, kneel or otherwise exercise their right to peaceful protest during the playing of the National Anthems before league games, we support them.”

Across the Bundesliga in recent weeks, players have worn armbands and shirts with the message ‘Black Lives Matter’ while teams have taken a knee together before games to protest against police brutality and honor the life of George Floyd who was killed in Minneapolis on May 25. Police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with the murder of Floyd and widespread protests have taken place across the USA and the world to call for change.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has asked associations across the globe to use ‘common sense’ when it comes to following the rules the governing body has over players sharing political, religious or personal messages while on the pitch. Infantino added that those players showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and to honor George Floyd should be ‘applauded and not punished’ for their actions.

USWNT wants soccer federation to repeal anthem policy

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CHICAGO — The USWNT wants the US Soccer Federation to repeal the anthem policy it instituted after Megan Rapinoe started kneeling during the ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’

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The USWNT also wants the federation to state publicly that the anthem policy was wrong and issue an apology to the team’s black players and supporters.

“Further, we believe the Federation should lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement that it tried to silence four years ago,” the U.S. women’s team posted on the Twitter feed of its players association Monday night.

Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem at a pair of national team matches in 2016. She said she wanted to express solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who silently took a knee during the national anthem before NFL games to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.

The U.S. Soccer Federation then approved a policy in February 2017 that stated players “shall stand respectfully” during national anthems. The policy remains in place, though the unions for the men’s and women’s teams believe it doesn’t apply to their players because of their collective bargaining agreements.

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Kaepernick and Rapinoe each faced sharp criticism for the protest for years. But public sentiment has changed since George Floyd’s death last month.

Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and saying that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the country, some of which became violent.

A lawyer for the men’s team union also called for the repeal of the policy and an apology.

A message was left by the AP seeking comment from the federation.