U.S. Soccer's Athletes' Council removes member for racially charged comments

The U.S. Soccer Federation Athletes' Council, which represents the interests of athletes within the USSF, announced that it has removed Seth Jahn from the council after he made racially charged comments at the USSF Annual General Meeting on Saturday.

At a meeting on Sunday, the Athletes' Council determined that Jahn, who previously represented the U.S. Paralympic team and led the security detail at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, violated the USSF's Prohibited Conduct Policy.

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The bylaws of the Athletes' Council allow for a member to be expelled by a two-thirds majority vote "in the event of a violation of the federation's Prohibited Conduct Policy, Policy Concerning Conflicts of Interest and Business Ethics, or otherwise for a violation of Federation Bylaws or Policies."

The federation's Prohibited Conduct Policy prohibits harassment on the basis of race, religion or national origin. This includes "any verbal, written or physical act in which race, religion, or national origin is used or implied in a manner that would make a reasonable person uncomfortable in the work environment or which would interfere with a person's ability to perform the job."

In a statement on Sunday, the Athletes' Council said that it "does not tolerate this kind 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 wants to be unequivocal in its condemnation of the statements that Mr. Jahn made yesterday both on the floor of the National Council and what he posted on Twitter later in the day, as well as similar statements he has made in the past, which is why it voted to remove him as a member of the Council effective immediately."

The meeting of the Athletes' Council was held in the wake of comments Jahn made about the repeal of Policy 604-1 (approved with 71.34% of the weighted vote), which required all national team players to stand for the national anthems when representing the U.S. Jahn said there was "relatively zero data to substantiate" the prevalence of police brutality on the Black community, and that the frequency of incidents of police brutality were a "statistical anomaly." He later minimized the impact of slavery on the Black community.

During a Zoom call with reporters Saturday, USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone initially spoke of needing to "hear both sides." After stating that she hadn't heard all of Jahn's remarks due to technical difficulties, she later clarified, saying, "Obviously, there's no place for racist comments. And so if that occurred, I'm sorry, I wasn't aware of it. What I meant about hearing all sides on an issue, it is important for us to listen to different sides, whether it's comfortable listening to them or not, but there's absolutely no place for racist comments."

The USSF later issued a statement further distancing itself from Jahn's comments.

The response to Jahn's comments from members of the Athletes' Council was swift, with U.S. women's national team defender Becky Sauerbrunn and former U.S. men's national team defender Oguchi Onyewu among those voicing opposition.

Jahn later posted on Twitter, saying, "I will never apologize for the statements I made."