The World Cup winning United States' women's team have demanded their football federation apologize to black players and supporters for issuing a ban on kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racism.
The players issued a social media statement through their union late Monday which also called on the federation to "lay out its plans on how it will now support the message and movement that it tried to silence four years ago."
The US men's team backed the demand although it is questionable whether the ban applied to either senior side as it was not included in labour agreements.
Women's captain Megan Rapinoe, 34, kneeled in in 2016 in support of the protest started by American footballer Colin Kaepernick. The federation said playes should "stand respectfully" during the anthem but Rapinoe remained and outspoken critic of American society, engaging in spats with President Donald Trump while also starring in last year's World Cup victory.
Protests have been widespread in America and the across the globe, including the world of sport, since the death of unarmed George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police late last month.
 "This is everybody's responsibility, including this union and its members; we could and should have done more in the past," the women's team said. "We are committed to rising up against racist, hateful and unjust acts to effect change. Black lives matter."
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