A U.S. Soccer Federation’s Athlete Council member was removed Sunday after giving a speech at a meeting voicing his opinion against the organization repealing the anti-kneeling policy.
Seth Jahn, 38, was against the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to repeal the rule for players barring kneeling during the national anthem. The organization’s board voted to repeal the policy in June and it was affirmed in its annual meeting Saturday with more than 71% voting in favor of the repeal.
The rule was put into place after Megan Rapinoe became the first pro athlete to follow in Colin Kaepernick’s steps and kneel during the anthem to protest racism and police brutality. The U.S. women’s soccer team said last month that it was past the protest phase.
Jahn, who played for the U.S. seven-a-side team in the 2015 Parapan American Games, gave an impassioned speech before the vote.
“I’m sure I’m going to ruffle some feathers with what I’m about to say, especially given the athletes council that I’m on, but given the evolution of our quote-unquote, progressive culture where everything offends everybody, those willing to take a knee for our anthem don’t care about defending half of our country and when they do so, then I don’t have too much concern in also exercising my First Amendment right,” he said Saturday, via Stars and Stripes FC. “We’re here to get a different perspective. I also feel compelled to articulate that I’m of mixed race and representative of undoubtedly the most persecuted people in our country’s history, Native Americans.”
Jahn said that “95% of deaths in Black communities come at the hands of another Black man.” He said he was citing FBI statistics with that number.
“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,” Jahn said. “Every race in the history of mankind has been enslaved by another demographic at some point 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 were the social justice warriors and the news journalists there to bring their ruminations to these real atrocities? And 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.”
USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said that the protest wasn’t about the flag and urged repeal.
The following day, the athlete’s council said it had removed Jahn because he “violated the prohibited conduct’s policy section on harassment, which prohibits racial or other harassment based upon a person’s protected status (race), including any verbal act in which race is used or implied in a manner which would make a reasonable person uncomfortable. The athlete’s council does not tolerate this type of language and finds it incompatible with membership on the council. While the council understands that each person has a right to his or her own opinion, there are certain opinions that go beyond the realm of what is appropriate or acceptable.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.