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US Soccer Athletes' Council expels member who opposed allowing players to protest national anthem

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'I will never apologize for the statements I made, and will never bow down to the mob'

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The U.S. Soccer Federation's Athletes' Council voted to remove member Seth Jahn on Sunday, alleging the former captain of the U.S. Soccer 7-a-side Paralympic team made racially insensitive comments that demanded his immediate removal.

What is the background?

On Saturday, the U.S. Soccer Federation's National Council voted to formally repeal its policy that required athletes to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

ESPN reported:

The vote to repeal Policy 604-1, which took place at the USSF's annual general meeting on Saturday, received 71.34% of the weighted vote. The policy had already been repealed by the USSF board of directors last June, but it still required a vote from the National Council, which comprises hundreds of voters from across the country representing stakeholders from the youth, adult amateur and professional constituencies, as well as the athletes' council.

What did Jahn say?

Prior to the vote repealing the policy, Jahn, a U.S. military veteran, spoke out for seven minutes voicing his opposition to repeal.

Jahn centered his criticism on two issues over which athletes have protested the national anthem: policy brutality and slavery.

On the first, Jahn claimed police brutality is "a narrative with relatively zero data to substantiate it." On the second, Jahn appeared to downplay the significance of race-based chattel slavery, which existed in America between the 17th and 19th centuries.

"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."

Jahn went on to say that he supports the First Amendment rights of others, but explained he believes individuals should not express their political opinions when collectively representing America.

"United we stand, divided we kneel," he said.

How did the federation respond?

The U.S. Soccer Athletes' Council voted Sunday to remove Jahn, claiming he violated U.S. Soccer's "prohibited conduct policy, specifically the section on harassment," the Athletic reported.

The Athletic characterized Jahn's comments as "racist and historically inaccurate."

In a statement, the U.S. Soccer Athletes' Council said Jahn's removal was "effective immediately" and said the council wanted to be "unequivocal in its condemnation" of Jahn.

The statement read, in part:

The Athletes' 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.

How did Jahn respond to his removal?

Jahn, who served three tours in Afghanistan during his special forces military career, went scorched-earth on U.S. Soccer.

"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 said. "I'm embarrassed to represent a hypocritical federation that conducts a complete assault on diversity of thought."

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