More than 100 Black MLS players raised their right fists and took a knee in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter social justice movement and remembered George Floyd ahead of the action returning on Wednesday night.
Wearing shirts with sayings such as “Black and Proud” and “Silence is Violence”, players outlined the field ahead of kickoff while the two participating teams kneeled in the center circle.
Some playSlowly, all involved raised their fists for a moment of silence, calling back to the famous protest by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic games.
The demonstration lasted eight minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man whose death in late May sparked nationwide protests.
“It was very emotional at the beginning. It was beautiful to see all the players come together on the field like that as one,” Inter Miami striker and United States international Juan Agudelo said after the match.
“Being on the field, it was very powerful. I put my fist up, and to be there with so many people that are trying to make a change in this country, and that’s what we need to do — not even for us but for our kids — kind of evolve as humans.”
MLS is the first men’s professional sports league to return in the U.S., following the NWSL’s return in late June.