The entire US team, dressed in their warm-up vests with the words “Black Lives Matter” on the front, represented the national anthem ahead of their SheBelieves Cup game on Sunday after some knelt in the opening of the tournament last Thursday.
US defender Crystal Dunn said no vote was taken to stop the kneeling gesture, but rather it was a collective decision by a team ready to move on to the protest phase.
“I think those who were kneeling collectively felt like we were kneeling down to draw attention to police brutality and systemic racism,” Dunn said.
“We decided to move forward, we no longer feel the need to kneel down because we do the work behind the scenes. We are fighting systemic racism.
“We never felt like we were going to kneel down forever, so there will always be a moment when we think it’s time to get up.”
The act of kneeling during the national anthem had all but disappeared from the sport, but returned last year after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last May when a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked protests across the United States for police brutality.
Last June, the US Soccer board voted to repeal a policy requiring players to show up for the national anthem, a rule put in place after Megan Rapinoe knelt down to support Colin Kaepernick, who popularized the move while playing for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. .
Dunn, who is one of seven black or biracial players on Team USA’s current 23-player roster, said she feels the team is ready to move forward given their efforts in off the field to tackle systemic racism.
“Even if we choose to stay on our feet, that doesn’t mean the conversations go away or end,” Dunn said.
“All of this to say that we are now, I think, ready to go through the protest phase and really move on to implementing all the rhetoric.”
The United States beat Canada and Brazil in their first two SheBelieves Cup games and ended the four-team round robin on Wednesday with a winless clash against Argentina.