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Players for the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage knelt during the national anthem Saturday when the National Women’s Soccer League opened the Challenge Cup tournament in Utah.
The players and coaches wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts in warmups before the game, which was nationally televised on CBS. The players also knelt during a moment of silence before kickoff.
“We took a knee today to protest racial injustice, police brutality and systemic racism against Black people and people of color in America. We love our country and we have taken this opportunity to hold it to a higher standard. It is our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms this nation was founded upon are extended to everyone,” the Thorns and Courage said in a joint statement released before the game.
The league said Friday that it would play the national anthem before the Challenge Cup games and that it would support the players in whatever they chose to do.
The NWSL is the first professional team sport in the United States to return amid the coronavirus outbreak. The monthlong Challenge Cup opened Saturday with a pair of games played without fans at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.
The Courage defeated the Thorns 2-1 in Saturday’s opening match. The Chicago Red Stars play the Washington Spirit in the late game.
“Today, hopefully, it was a powerful statement,” Courage midfielder Sam Mewis said. “It was an emotional time and I hope that both teams’ message comes through clearly.”
Astonishing moment in American Sports. NWSL becomes first American Pro-Team sport to return to action. All 22 players wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts and take a knee during the National Anthem. Breathtaking to witness 🇺🇸🙌 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/2pELWZ0S3k
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) June 27, 2020
Julie Ertz kneeling alongside Casey Short prior to tonight’s #NWSL match in the #ChallengeCup. One of the better moments I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing in sports. However, this needs to serve as a painful reminder to continue to push for #BlackLivesMattters every damn day. pic.twitter.com/oAHRQz5Iej
— Selena Alvarez (@SelenaAlvarez25) June 28, 2020
Rapinoe voiced her support for the NWSL players Saturday on social media: “You love to see these women using their voice, demanding better for America, and for black people and people of color.”
You love to see it. You love to see these women using their voice, demanding better for America, and for black people and people of color. @TheNCCourage and @ThornsFC kneeling in solidarity with @Kaepernick7 and @Blklivesmatter ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/8Urlj5FMPn
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) June 27, 2020