Players Pay Tribute to Black Lives Matter Before MLS Restart

An 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence preceded Orlando City’s 2-1 win over Inter Miami

Players Pay Tribute to Black Lives Matter Before MLS Restart
Referee Rubiel Vazquez, Dom Dwyer of Orlando City and Matias Pellegrini of Inter Miami take a knee. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Getty Images
By Evan Bleier / July 9, 2020 9:46 am

Before anyone used their feet during the first game of the MLS is Back Tournament, players put their knees and their fists to work in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to Orlando City’s 2-1 win over Inter Miami, nearly 200 MLS players took the field to hold an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence in recognition of how long disgraced former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd.

Players — and referees — also took to their knees in solidarity with the BLM movement, and members of the league’s Black Players for Change held their fists up in imitation of United States Olympic medal winners John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics.

“Really this protest is about fighting for racial equality and human rights,” organizer Justin Morrow of Toronto FC said. “We’re standing with all of our brothers and sisters across the world — definitely across the North American sports landscape, but we see what’s happening over in Europe as well, how soccer players are fighting against racism there. We’re standing with all of our brothers and sisters to fight this fight.”

In the game itself, Orlando City’s Designated Player Nani poked home a cross pass in the 97th minute to give his side the win.

The MLS is Back Tournament continues today with NYCFC taking on Philadelphia (currently underway) and Montreal facing off with New England.

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