NWSL players kneel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement

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Every player from the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns took a knee during the national anthem and wore t-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” prior to their National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match on Saturday.

In a joint statement, the players said they did so to protest racial injustice, police brutality and systemic racism against Black people and other people of colour in America.

“We love our country and we have taken this opportunity to hold it to a higher standard,” the players said.

“It is our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms this nation was founded upon are extended to everyone.”

The protest was popularized by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and the gesture has again gained steam following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis last month.

Saturday’s match in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, marked the first time a major North American league has returned to action since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, which upended the sports calendar in March.

Spirit Coach Richie Burke joined his players in kneeling before their game.

“I’m grateful for everything this country has given me, but I feel the need to support the Black Lives Matter movement because I know this privilege isn’t the same for everyone. This is just the start. There is much more work to be done,” Burke said.

Thorns defender Becky Sauerbrunn said: “The [players’ association] has been about collaborating with teams on what we can do to maintain and sustain the conversation around racial injustice in this country.”

“We made a strong statement and we wanted to kind of maintain that momentum that has been happening and to show official commitment to the cause,” she added.

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Edited by Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

By Reuters

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