On Saturday, the United States Soccer Federation overwhelmingly voted to put an end to the ban on players kneeling during the national anthem with one delegate strongly objecting to the vote and then being condemned for it.
In June 2020, the Board of Directors passed a measure that sought to repeal the ban on kneeling that had been enforced since 2017. The federation was required to vote on that measure. The board explained the decision to repeal the policy last year by stating that the rule was wrong and that it reflected their failure to address the valid concerns of black individuals and other minorities.
The ban was put in place after women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe decided to take a knee in protest at a 2016 match in Thailand. The gesture was made in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the movement to decry alleged racial inequality and police brutality.
The decision to reverse the policy came after the media publicized widespread protests that took place in 2020 in the United States against perceived police brutality. 71% of the membership voted to repeal the ban.
US Soccer's members have voted to repeal a 2017 rule that required players to stand during the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/mvebm43a5E
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) February 27, 2021
“We know that this is a very divisive issue within our country and throughout the world,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone told the press after the vote. “So I was not surprised that our membership was not 100% one way or the other.”
But one delegate, Paralympian Seth Jahn, stood firmly against repealing the ban. He spoke forcefully against it and the federation released a statement denouncing his comments as inappropriate.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) February 28, 2021
“The offensive comments made from the floor by a delegate during today’s annual general meeting do not represent the views of U.S. Soccer,” the statement declared.
“As we reflect on a successful AGM, we also want to underline the importance of U.S. Soccer’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the federation and across our membership.”
The vote – 71% in favor with only a simply majority required – directly followed this sensational seven-minute dissent by Seth Jahn, a US Paralympian who is a current member US Soccer Athlete Council. pic.twitter.com/vH4Pc4vkT4
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) February 27, 2021
Jahn was removed from the U.S. Soccer Athlete Council on Sunday for his politically incorrect remarks. He railed against the politicization of sports and pointed out that the sports industry is nothing more than “entertainment” and “escape.”
“In 2020, when every citizen was craving an outlet as they were locked down in their homes, sports should have had the highest ratings ever in history, yet nearly every major sports organization saw an incredibly massive decline … as they expressed an inundation of varying displays of their politics,” Jahn argued in a seven-minute speech.
“The facts just don’t have time for the feelings,” Jahn said. “I worked in law enforcement in two large agencies alongside my black, brown, white, yellow, red, purple peers, I never once saw a hint of police brutality.”
“Does that mean it doesn’t exist? Absolutely not and it’s important to address those atrocities when they manifest, to exercise critical thinking and to also rebuke the divisive narrative exacerbated by the media in order to garner their ratings as they exploit our emotive state.”
Then Jahn ventured into the issue of historical slavery in the U.S.: “I keep hearing how our country was founded on the backs of slaves even though approximately only 8% of the entire population even owned slaves. Every race in the history of mankind has been enslaved by another demographic at some point in time.”
“Blacks have been enslaved, Hispanics have been enslaved, Asians – most recently in our country, in the freaking 20th century – have been enslaved, Natives have been enslaved, whites have been enslaved. Shoot, I lived in Africa for two and a half years where I could purchase people – slaves – between the price of $300 and $800 per person, per head, depending on their age, health, and physicality. Where are the social justice warriors and the news journalists to bring illumination to these real atrocities?” the soccer star asked.
“Yet in all of history, only one country has fought to abolish slavery: the United States of America, where nearly 400,000 men died to fight for the abolishment of slavery underneath the same stars and bars that our athletes take a knee for. Their sacrifice is tainted with every … knee that touches the ground. It’s shameful and embarrassing,” he steadfastly proclaimed.
The council angrily lashed out after they ordered Jahn’s removal from their ranks. The council “wants to be unequivocal in its condemnation of the statements that Mr. Jahn made yesterday.”
The US women’s national team stood as one during the anthem prior to the SheBelieves Cup game on February 24. The team publically stated that they were past the protesting phase but they were still all-in for fighting against systemic racism.
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