United States Soccer has lifted its ban on kneeling during the national anthem having admitted it was wrong to prevent Megan Rapinoe from doing so.

Four years ago, Rapinoe took a knee prior to the women's team's game against Thailand, following the lead of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did so to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

Kaepernick was heavily criticised by president Donald Trump for kneeling and U.S. Soccer's board of directors passed a law in 2017 which made it mandatory for its players to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner prior to games.

However, given there has been a renewed focus on the issues Kaepernick was protesting following the death of George Floyd in police custody last month, USA's women's team had called for the ban to be removed.

U.S. Soccer has now revised its law and apologised to its players for passing the rule in the first place.

"U.S. Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices," the federation said in a statement.

"The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday afternoon to repeat Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem.

"The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality and the systematic oppression of black people and people of colour in America. 

"It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.

"We have not done enough to listen - especially to our players - to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of black and other minority communities in our country.

"We apologise to our players - especially our black players - staff, fans and all who support eradicating racism.

"Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues and we will."

U.S. Soccer's decision comes after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that league was also wrong to not listen to its players when they peacefully protested.

United States star Alex Morgan has given birth to her first child.

Striker Morgan announced she was pregnant in October, just three months after helping the USA retain their Women's World Cup title.

The Orlando Pride player revealed she and husband Servando Carrasco, a former LA Galaxy midfielder, welcomed a girl, Charlie Elena Carrasco, into the world on Thursday.

"At 1130am on May 7 weighing 8lbs5oz, Charlie Elena Carrasco made her grand entrance into the world," Morgan posted on Twitter. 

"She made us wait longer than expected, but I should have known she would do it her way and her way only. My super moon baby."

As well as winning two World Cups, Morgan is also an Olympic gold medallist from the 2012 Games in London.

Prospective US presidential candidate Joe Biden has implored the US Soccer Federation to resolve the pay dispute with its women's team or risk losing World Cup funding.

On Friday, a judge threw out an unequal pay claim in a lawsuit against US Soccer that had been brought out by a group of 28 USA players, who were led by two-time Women's World Cup winner Alex Morgan.

While federal judge R. Gary Klausner allowed the players' case against unfair treatment in travel, housing and medical support to go to trial next month, the damages sought under the Equal Pay Act were dismissed.

The players' spokesperson Molly Levinson said they intended to appeal that decision, and Biden, who is expected to be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate for the next election, encouraged them to keep fighting on Twitter.

Moreover, he warned US Soccer that should the equal-pay dispute not be resolved, he would withhold funding for the men's World Cup in 2026, which is due to be staged in the USA, Mexico and Canada.

"To @USWNT: don't give up this fight. This is not over yet," Biden wrote on Twitter.

"To @USSoccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I'm president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding."

Earlier this week, USA captain Megan Rapinoe had offered to be Biden's running mate on his presidential ticket.

Megan Rapinoe has thrown her hat into the ring to be the running mate for Joe Biden, who is expected to be the Democratic Party's candidate for the United States presidency.

Rapinoe won the Ballon d'Or Femenin and Best FIFA Women's Player award for her on-pitch performances in 2019 and is seemingly eyeing yet another title away from the field.

The 34-year-old USWNT and OL Reign captain has used her platform to speak out on societal issues including racism, homophobia and the gender pay gap.

She drew the ire of incumbent US president Donald Trump having said she had no intention of visiting him if the USA won last year's Women's World Cup, which they did.

Biden, who was vice-president during Barack Obama's time in the Oval Office, has committed to selecting a female running mate.

During an Instagram Live session with Biden and his wife Jill, Rapinoe made her services available.

"I don't want to put you on the spot – I think I could still play soccer and do this," Rapinoe told Biden.

"But if you need a vice-president, I'm just saying I'm available for an interview. We can talk logistics and the details. Put it on your list. No pressure."

"You would have to take a pay cut to become vice-president," responded Biden, before adding: "Think what you've done, Megan… It's all about the team. It's about a team, and you get it.

"You treat the other team-mates with respect. I really mean it, it's a gigantic thing."

Jill Ellis ruled the world with the United States women's national team, and Karen Carney says the English-born coach could be perfect for the Lionesses.

The Football Association is looking for a new head coach to lead England after it was announced Phil Neville will leave his position next year.

Carney, a 144-cap former midfield star with England, says Ellis, who won the Women's World Cup with the USWNT in 2015 and 2019, has strong credentials for the job.

Ellis, 53, was born in Hampshire and moved to the United States with her family as a teenager. She spent five years in charge of the USA before stepping down after the second World Cup win.

England will be hosts of the next European Championship, which has been delayed by 12 months until 2022, and Carney thinks Ellis would be capable of handling the high-pressure challenge of leading the team into such a tournament.

Carney told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I would probably go after Jill Ellis because she is the former US manager, she's proven. To be the American manager you're getting things fired at you, left, right and centre, so you've got to have a strong personality so I think she could do it.

"To have a home Euros, you're going to have a lot of things thrown at you. You've got to stand big and strong."

England have reached the semi-finals of the last two Women's World Cups, losing at that stage to the US last year in France, and also got to the last four at Euro 2017.

Carney urged the team to "find a way of getting a gold somehow" and said it was important to make the switch to the next Lionesses coach "a comfortable transition for the players".

Carney also appeared to question whether it might make sense to end the Neville era sooner given a decision has already been reached to move on.

"For England, if I was a player I'd probably want a bit of continuity now," she said.

"[The European Championship] is on home soil, it's an opportunity to really showcase the women's game.

"It's not a make-or-break situation, but it's on home soil and all eyes will be on us.

"So we have to give the players the best opportunity and is that to get a manager in sooner rather than later? I don't know.

"I'm sure there's contract issues in that and also the climate we're currently in."

United States star Carli Lloyd admitted her ambition of becoming an NFL kicker may have to be parked for an extra year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-time Women's World Cup winner has made no secret of her NFL dream, and she caught the eye last August when drilling a series of field goals while visiting a Philadelphia Eagles practice session.

USA veteran and long-time Eagles fan Lloyd is convinced she could become the first woman to play in the NFL.

Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen last year said he would be prepared to school Lloyd in the intricacies of kicking a pigskin with the precision she shoots a soccer ball.

But an unexpected possible stumbling block surfaced when the Tokyo Olympics had to be pushed back to 2021, meaning Lloyd, 37, will focus on her established sports career for a while longer.

Asked about the NFL plans, Lloyd said: "I'm focusing on soccer at the moment, but I've always been a kid who loves a challenge and I've never backed down from any challenge.

"I know with proper training and the right technique and someone showing me how to properly kick, I know that I can do it.

"It may have to get pushed a year or so. I know the times right now are a little up in the air, so we'll see. I'm not ruling it out."

The global health crisis has had a major knock-on effect on the sporting world, and Lloyd must stay on her game deeper into her thirties than she might have envisaged, to stay in with a shot of playing another Olympics.

She already has two gold medals, from the 2008 and 2012 Games.

Speaking in a streamed Yahoo and Women's Sports Foundation event, she confirmed a determination to be a part of the US team in Japan.

Lloyd said: "For me now it's another year to be able to prepare, to be able to push the boundaries, the barriers, of becoming more fit, stronger, to better my game, and I'm excited about it."

Despite the allure of the NFL, she may have stayed in football in 2021, anyway.

"It gives me another year, because I didn't think I was going to be ready to be done after this year, so I get another year to play," she said.

"Everyone's talking about the age. It's a year later; it's not going to make much difference because I'm feeling at the top of my game and feeling really, really good right now."

Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

It was a decade full of skill, unforgettable moments and remarkable storylines.

Grand slam titles, Olympic Games gold medals, Rugby World Cups, Women's World Cups and more.

However, the impact and influence of some athletes proved more transcending than others.

We look at the most influential sports people of the past decade as we prepare to farewell the 2010s.

 

COLIN KAEPERNICK

Kaepernick has never swayed from his beliefs, even if it cost him a career in the NFL.

Following five years with the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick hit the headlines when he kneeled during the United States national anthem in 2016.

The quarterback cited racial injustice and police brutality. He filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job. Kaepernick settled that grievance in February.

Despite some backlash, the 32-year-old inspired a nation – receiving support from Nike, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Megan Rapinoe and others. He even refused to meet the NFL's demands for a workout in November – all but ending his career. For Kaepernick, it has always been about more than American football…

SIYA KOLISI

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi lifted the Rugby World Cup in November. However, his influence stretches much further than a rugby pitch.

In a country embroiled in economic turmoil and racial unrest, Kolisi – the Springboks' first black captain in their 127-year history – is a beacon of hope.

Having come from an area marked by unemployment and lack of opportunity, Kolisi has become a household name and a genuine inspirational star, who can help unite a nation.

MEGAN RAPINOE

Outspoken on and off the field, Women's World Cup winner and United States star Rapinoe has transcended football.

From LGBT rights, gender equality and racial quality, Rapinoe has led the fights.

The 34-year-old has drawn the ire of US president Donald Trump, and even called out FIFA over the gulf in prize money for the women's and men's World Cups as she strives to make football and the world a better place, while maintaining her dominance on the pitch – winning the 2019 Ballon d'Or Feminin, last year's Golden Ball and Golden Boot.

ANDY MURRAY

A three-time grand slam champion and former world number one, Murray's lasting legacy may be his fight for gender equality – not just his on-court achievements.

Not one to keep quiet, just watch him play tennis, Murray has championed against sexism, especially after hiring Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014. 

In 2015, Murray wrote: "Have I become a feminist? If being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then I suppose I have."

SIMONE BILES

This decade saw the emergence of a gymnastics sensation, yielding four Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 19 World Championships golds - 25 in total - over the past six years.

Biles is the most decorated artistic gymnast of all time at just 22 years of age, establishing herself as one of the best athletes in the world in the face of adversity.

The once-in-a-lifetime talent won five gold medals in Stuttgart, while dealing with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

In 2018, she claimed she was sexually abused by ex-Team USA gymnastics sports doctor Nassar, encouraging others to do the same. She continues to influence the sport in innumerable ways. 

ANTHONY JOSHUA

In a decade dominated by UFC and the emergence of mixed-martial arts, Joshua has stood tall for boxing. Flying the flag in the ring, the heavyweight champion consistently attracts crowds that have never been seen in British boxing.

A game-changer for the sport, Joshua has broadened boxing's appeal beyond traditional audiences. For his bout against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April 2017, a post-ward record crowd of 90,000 attended.

An estimated 80,000 spectators also took in his clash with Carlos Takam in Cardiff six months later. Joshua also took a title fight to Saudi Arabia in December - regaining his belts.

ALEX ZANARDI

Zanardi survived one of the most horrific non-fatal crashes in the history of open-wheel racing. The Italian lost both his legs in 2001, while he was also red his last rites.

However, Zanardi – who said he went 50 minutes with less than a litre of blood and his heart stopped beating seven times – was not done.

The former CART champion turned to paracycling and won two gold medals in his 2012 Paralympics debut, followed by another two in 2016.

CASTER SEMENYA

A two-time Olympic Games gold medallist and athletics star, it has been a tough end to the decade for Semenya but the South African inspired a nation in 2019.

She missed the World Athletics Championships in October after the IAAF proposed regulations regarding athletes with differences of sex development (DSD).

The new rule instructed athletes such as Semenya – who compete in events from the 400m to a mile, to take medication to lower their testosterone levels to take part in women's track events.

Despite lengthy legal battles and years of questions, Semenya continued to fight for her rights, leading to a Nike video in which she spoke about acceptance, self-love and respecting people for who they are. "I'm one kind of an athlete. I run my own race. It's all about me," said Semenya.

Kristine Lilly has backed the work done by Megan Rapinoe and her United States colleagues in building the profile of women’s sport.

Rapinoe is coming to the end of a stunning year in which she played a major role in the US winning the World Cup while also landing two major individual prizes in the FIFA Best and Ballon d’Or.

But it is her outspoken nature off the pitch that has arguably accelerated her rise to global prominence.

A vocal supporter of women’s rights and equal pay – as well as taking on US president Donald Trump in a Twitter spat - Rapinoe has become an icon for many around the world.

Former US midfielder Lilly, who holds the record for most international appearances by a male or female footballer with 352, was impressed with the way Rapinoe and her team-mates conducted themselves during the World Cup in France over the summer as well as their general outlook.

Asked about Rapinoe's influence, Lilly told Omnisport: "They have a platform, they are fighting for women’s sport, women’s football to make it a better environment and it’s being heard.

"It’s helping other countries to recognise that the investment is needed.

"The US team did a great job, the last World Cup was pretty phenomenal for what they accomplished. I’m proud of what they continue to fight for."

The World Cup in France elevated the profile of women’s football to new levels and Lilly is hopeful that momentum will continue.

She added: "There’s no other way to go. The investment that FIFA is putting behind the women’s game is the catalyst for it because of the recognition of where we are and where we need to go.

"The more teams we create, build that base up for competition, the better the World Cup will be.

"They are going to expand to 32 teams so we will need those teams to have some finance behind them. I see great things for the future of the women’s game. We have to keep backing it."

Megan Rapinoe has urged Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, as well as other leading male superstars, to be more outspoken on social issues including racism and sexism.

United States international Rapinoe won the women's Ballon d'Or this week, joining Messi on the stage at the annual awards gala as the Barcelona great claimed the men's prize for a record sixth time, one more than rival Ronaldo.

But Rapinoe, who has long been vociferous in her opposition to discrimination, does not believe her male counterparts are doing enough.

"I want to shout, 'Cristiano, Leo, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], help me'," she told France Football. "These big stars do not engage in anything when there are so many problems in men's football.

"Do they have the fear of losing everything? They believe that but it's not true.

"Who would scratch Messi or Ronaldo's names from the world of football for a statement against racism or sexism?"

Rapinoe suggested recognition of her individual achievements was in part due to the way she has been open to discussing key topics.

"This Ballon d'Or rewards both," she said. "On the one hand, I am a very good footballer. On the other hand, my activism attracts support.

"People understand that I act to find solutions to the problems in our society. The idea is to empower others to speak loudly."

Megan Rapinoe has added another award to her collection after the United States star beat Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan to win the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

The 34-year-old became a World Cup winner for the second time in July, claiming both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in France as her six goals helped Jill Ellis' team retain their trophy.

That led to Rapinoe being named The Best FIFA Women's Player in September and she has now succeeded Ada Hegerberg by winning the second ever Ballon d'Or Feminin.

England and Lyon right-back Bronze finished second in the voting while Rapinoe's USA team-mate Morgan was third.

Rapinoe was not at the ceremony in Paris on Monday, but said she was shocked to be the winning the award.

"It's a bummer [not to be there]," she said.

"I congratulate all the nominees. I can't believe I'm the one winning it.

"I want to thank my team-mates, my coaches, my federation, to allow me to be the person who I am on the field and off the field.

"Thank you to my beautiful girlfriend Sue. I'm so sorry I can't be there, I know it's going to be insane but I'll do my best to get there next year."

Megan Rapinoe has added another award to her collection after the United States star beat Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan to win the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

The 34-year-old became a World Cup winner for the second time in July, claiming both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in France as her six goals helped Jill Ellis' team retain their trophy.

That led to Rapinoe being named The Best FIFA Women's Player in September and she has now succeeded Ada Hegerberg by winning the second ever Ballon d'Or Feminin.

England and Lyon right-back Bronze finished second in the voting while Rapinoe's USA team-mate Morgan was third.

Women's World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has called on clubs, officials and fan groups to do more to eradicate racism from football.

Rapinoe highlighted the €75,000 (£65,000) fine given to Bulgaria by UEFA last month following evidence of racist abuse during the Euro 2020 qualifier with England as an example of where the sport is continuing to fall short.

Bulgaria were also ordered to play two games behind closed doors - the second of which is suspended for two years - in a decision Rapinoe branded "an absolute joke".

"We're not going to accept this. This is not something that's going to be in our game," she told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"So I feel like all of the clubs and the presidents and fan groups and everyone, you know, frankly are failing these players.

"If you're ever caught doing anything racist you should be banned for life. That's just the end of it. I mean £65,000 is an absolute joke.

"For me I'm just like, make it super extreme so it's damaging to the team, to the federation, so it's damaging financially."

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling played in England's recent qualifier in Sofia and has been praised for speaking out about racism.

Rapinoe has urged others to follow his example.

"I need all the players on Raheem's team, all the players in the Premier League and in the leagues abroad to make it their problem because it really is everybody's issue," she said.

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the United States defended their World Cup crown earlier this year, before collecting the Best FIFA Women's Player award in September.

Vlatko Andonovski has been named the new head coach of Women's World Cup winners the United States, replacing outgoing boss Jill Ellis.

Ellis stepped down in July after leading USA to a successful defence of their World Cup title in France.

US Soccer confirmed Andonovski as Ellis' successor on Monday, with the former FC Kansas City and Reign FC boss - who has coached in the NWSL for the past seven seasons - "honoured" to land the position.

"It's a huge honour and I'm very excited to get started with this group of players and staff as we work towards continued success for this programme," he said in a statement.

"All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I'm committed to working very hard to continue to move this programme forward."

Andonovski has experience of coaching USWNT veterans Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn. 

The 43-year-old's first game in charge will come against Sweden on November 7.

Alex Morgan has revealed she is pregnant just three months after helping the United States to Women's World Cup glory.

The Orlando Pride striker is expecting her first child with husband Servando Carrasco, the LA Galaxy midfielder, with a daughter due in April 2020.

Galaxy congratulated the pair on their news with a Twitter post on Wednesday, before Morgan uploaded pictures and a message to her Instagram page.

"We are already in love and we haven't even met her yet," she wrote. "Newest member of the Carrasco family, coming soon."

Morgan scored six goals at this year's World Cup - five of them coming in a record 13-0 win against Thailand - as USA defended their title.

She was nominated this week for the 2019 Ballon d'Or Femenin.

The 30-year-old has not featured for Orlando since suffering an injury 13 minutes into a 2-1 victory over Chicago Red Stars in late August.

Morgan revealed last month the knee issue had ended her National Women's Soccer League season early.

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