Courage, Thorns players kneel for anthem, wear Black Lives Matter shirts

The National Women’s Soccer League became the first North American team sport to resume play on Saturday with a game between the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns, and they used their network television debut to make a powerful statement about racism and equality.

Before the clock began on the NWSL’s Challenge Cup kickoff, all Thorns and Courage players kneeled during the national anthem.

All players and coaches were also wearing Black Lives Matter shirts during warmups, and numerous players wore Black Lives Matters armbands during the game itself.

Megan Rapinoe, who has opted out of the NWSL’s Challenge Cup season, tweeted how proud she was to see her fellow players making such a statement about anti-racism.

Once players took the field, the Black Lives Matter shirts were replaced by Black Lives Matter armbands. Before play officially began, they held a moment of silence in recognition of the lives lost to police brutality and the ongoing fight to eradicate racism. Players were in position on the field, and they again took a knee.

Just before the game began, the Courage and Thorns released a joint statement

Today is a big day for the NWSL. There are so many eyes on them, some for the first time ever. Faced with a large audience and increased attention, they used this opportunity to show everyone where they stand: against racism and inequality.

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