Women’s pro soccer teams take knee as league play resumes

Women’s pro soccer teams take knee as league play resumes
Members of the Portland Thorns, left, and the North Carolina Courage take a knee before the opening match of the NWSL's Challenge Cup. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

HERRIMAN, Utah — The National Women’s Soccer League opened its season Saturday, and players from the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns took a knee during the national anthem.

The NWSL became the first professional sports league in North America to resume play since the coronavirus pandemic began, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Saturday. The two teams played the opening match of the Challenge Cup in Herriman, Utah, ESPN reported.

Players from both teams wore Black Lives Matter shirts over their jerseys during the national anthem and BLM armbands during the game, according to ESPN.

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Members of the Courage coaching staff and one player on the bench did not take a knee during the anthem, the Tribune reported. A moment of silence was observed before kickoff, and every player, coach and referee took a knee, the newspaper reported.

North Carolina won the match, 2-1. The stands were empty due to the pandemic.

“Today, hopefully, it was a powerful statement,” Courage midfielder Sam Mewis told reporters after the match. “It was an emotional time and I hope that both teams’ message comes through clearly.”

Players from both teams also issued a joint statement.

“We took a knee today to protest racial injustice, police brutality, and systemic racism against Black people and people of color in America,” the statement read. “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.”