News and Commentary

Combat Vet, Paralympian Blasts ‘Gestapo Tactics’ Of U.S. Soccer After Losing Council Seat, Racism Accusations

"... never bow down to the mob mentality of intimidation, bullying, or the social media warrior’s gestapo tactics."
Soccer player Seth Jahn poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit, March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. - The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 5-21. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Seth Jahn, a Paralympian and military veteran, issued an “apology” for offending members of the U.S. Soccer Athlete Council during a seven-minute speech condemning kneeling for the national anthem.

Jahn gave lengthy remarks prior to the council’s Saturday vote to repeal a 2017 rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem before matches. Because of the speech, the council voted to remove him shortly after and issued a statement condemning his remarks and citing the council’s anti-harassment policy

“The Athletes’ Council does not tolerate this type of language and finds it incompatible with membership on the Council,” the council said. “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.”

U.S. Soccer also released a statement condemning Jahn’s rhetoric as offensive and “racist.”

“As we reflect upon a successful [annual general meeting], we also want to underline the importance of U.S. Soccer’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the federation and across our membership,” the federation’s statement said. “An important step forward in this process was the repeal of policy 604-1 today during the national council meeting. As U.S. Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone said after the AGM, there is never a place for racist comments in any form.”

On Sunday, Jahn hit back at his critics, saying he is “embarrassed” to have ever represented U.S. Soccer and slammed the organization for the “smear campaign” against him.

I want to state that my positions are in no way representative of USSoccer or the US National Extended Team/USPNT. 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. 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. The [overwhelming] support I received from a number of people within the federation compared to the 30+ death threats I received from the insignificant, rabid key board warriors was appreciated, but I implore you to speak publicly in your support in the future for those bold enough to challenge the status quo and not just privately. Nothing I said was racist, and I’ve done more for people of color all over this planet at risk of my own life throughout the entirety of my 17 year career than the entire athletes council [has] done cumulatively, and I will continue to do so. The one point I will clarify is that when I stated that a small percentage of people in our country who were responsible for the terrors of slavery hundreds of years ago, of which 400,000+ men died to abolish under our nation’s flag, I was in no way minimizing the horrors of slavery, I was simply illuminating the misplaced rage and squandered opportunities to bring to light the tens of millions of people who are enslaved TODAY…more so than at any point in history. Persecuted people who I readily put my life on the line to recover from the predacious dregs who prey on them. I welcome any and all respectful debates void of emotion, and will gladly have an open dialogue publicly [with] anyone who was brave enough to place unwarranted labels on me from the safety of their mobile device. …

Related: Combat Vet, Paralympian Blasts U.S. Soccer Vote To Allow Kneeling During Anthem

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