CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Soccer Federation’s athletes council removed one of its members Sunday, a day after he made a speech at the federation’s annual general meeting against removing an anti-kneeling policy.
Seth Jahn, a 38-year-old from Florida who played for the U.S. seven-a-side ParaOlympic team at the 2015 Parapan American Games, spoke against repeal of what was known as Policy 604-1, put in place in response to U.S. women’s team star Megan Rapinoe kneeling in support of Colin Kaepernick.
The USSF board voted to repeal the policy on June 9, a decision the online annual meeting affirmed Saturday by 71.34% voting in favor of repeal.
“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 our for 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,” Jahn said before the vote. “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.”
Claiming he was citing FBI statistics, Jahn said “95% of deaths in black communities come at the hands of another black man.”
“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,” he 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 2 1/2 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 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 with every knee that touches the ground.”
He suggested that athletes would wish to take a knee do so on their own individual platforms, but not while representing the U.S. on a soccer field.
USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone followed Jahn and urged repeal.
“This is not about disrespecting the flag or about disrespecting the military,” she said. “This is about the athletes and our staff’s right to peacefully protest racial inequalities and police brutality.”
The athlete’s council said in a statement Sunday that Jahn “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 council said it “wants to be unequivocable in its condemnation of the statements that Mr. Jahn made yesterday.”
Jahn tweeted a statement “that my positions are in no way representative of U.S. Soccer or the U.S. national extended teams.” Jahn said he “was in no way minimizing the horrors of slavery” but was “illuminating the misplaced rage and squandered opportunities to bring to light the tens of millions of people who are enslaved today.”
“I will never apologize for the statements I made and will never bow down to the mob mentality of intimidation, bullying or the social media warrior’s gestapo tactics,” he wrote. “I’m embarrassed to represent a hypocritical federation that conducts a complete assault on diversity of thought without even seeking clarifying statements from me in their smear campaign. I’m embarrassed at the cowardice of so-called friends who bent over to the mob, knowing very well the quality of my character, in order to preserve their own image.”
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