US women’s national team players have decided to stop kneeling during the anthem and instead focus on working behind the scenes to eradicate racial inequality.

Many players kneeled down for the anthem before national team and club games last year to protest against systemic racism.

But the entire team stood during the anthem ahead of a SheBelieves Cup game in Florida against Brazil last weekend.

“I think those who kneeled together felt like we were kneeling to draw attention to police brutality and systemic racism, and I think we decided that in the future we will no longer need to kneel because we do Get work done behind the scenes. We fight systemic racism. And we never felt like we were kneeling forever, ”said defender Crystal Dunn.

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe knelt for the first time during the anthem at two national team games in 2016. She said she wanted to show her solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who silently knelt down during the national anthem before the NFL games, raising awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.

Rapinoe was criticized and US football passed a rule that requires players to stand.

But the public mood changed last year after global protests against the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pushed his knee on the back of his neck.

Athletes of all sports responded by kneeling during the anthem. Soon after, US football broke the rule and President Cindy Parlow Cone apologized for it.

Defender Midge Purce was one of the founders of the Black Women’s Player Collective, a group of 43 players from the Black National Women’s Soccer League. The non-profit group founded last year aims to improve the representation and voice of black women in sport.

The group started a fundraiser this week to host free soccer clinics nationwide and to give children the chance to participate in NWSL games this season, among other things. Within a day of launch, the organization exceeded its target of $ 20,000.

“It is definitely something that is difficult to talk about and difficult to take the next step because as white payers we want to do everything we can to support the black players and make their voice stand out, but not ask them either Do all the work and always be forward looking, ”said defense attorney Tierna Davidson. “This is something that we definitely talked about as a group and that we definitely dealt with.”

Davidson said the players are working with the collective and the NWSL to bring about change in their communities.

Angel City FC, joining the NWSL in 2022, joined Common Goal on Wednesday to launch the anti-racist project to fight systemic racism in football and society through education at all levels of the game. Other people involved in the project are Chicago Fire from Major League Soccer, the goalkeeper of the men’s national team, Zack Steffen, the Sanneh Foundation, the Oakland Roots football club and the American Outlaws support group.

“There would always be a time when we felt it was time to stand,” said Dunn. “I think we are all proud to be doing the work behind the scenes and it was just a game where we felt ready to move into the next phase and continuously fight for change.”

Loading…

Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports