Major League Soccer players numbering over 100 from different MLS clubs gathered on the pitch on Wednesday and raised their right fist in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The demonstration which was described as “powerful moments” took place just before the kick-off of the MLS is Back tournament taking place in Orlando, Florida.
Based on the pictures Los Angeles soccer team shared on their verified Instagram account, the players wore black clothes and black facemasks all in a quest to add their voices to the agitation against discrimination of African-Americans.
This agitation was reignited in May when a video showing a white police officer in the United States kneeling on a black man, George Floyd, until he suffocated to death, surfaced on the internet. The ugly incident sparked mass protest in the U.S. and some other major countries in the world.
Since then, celebrities and public figures especially footballers across the world, have used different means to show their support against police brutality, racial discrimination, injustice and other ills that affect mostly the black race.
Pundits have been wondering how the MLS would join the agitation since there have not been soccer action in America long before the agitation gained momentum. Hence, MLS decided to wow the followers of the American professional league by staging a mass demonstration on the pitch.
Players were seen wearing black T-shirts on their jerseys with different inscriptions supporting”Black Lives Matter” and social justice movement. Some of the inscriptions read: “Black and Proud” and “Silence is Violence”.
The show went on for 8 minutes 46 seconds which signified the amount of time white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd before he died on the spot.
When the general demonstration was over, the two teams that played the first match of the tournament – Orlando City Soccer Club and Inter Miami CF whose players took a knee during the demonstration, commenced the soccer proceedings.
“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 the 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 Back Tournament: Orlando City SC vs Inter Miami CF
The match between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF ended 2-1 in favour of Orlando City. Inter Miami took the lead very early in the second half through the boot of Juan Agudelo in the 47th minute.
Inter Miami maintained the lead until the 70th minute when Orlando’s Chris Mueller equalised. When both teams thought they were going to share the points, former Manchester United forward, Nani made it 2-1 in the 90′ + 7th minute.
In the post-match interview, the Portuguese and Orlando City winger described MLS mass demonstration in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as “a beautiful gesture”.
“We all know we want to change the world, we want a better world, in which people look to each other without any difference, with no discrimination for colour or nationality and I think the decision at the beginning of the game and the performance from everyone was beautiful”, he added.
“It’s emotional for those there and I felt it for a couple of moments and I started thinking that everyone in the world should stop for a minute and start thinking about their attitudes and to see what we all can do to make a difference in the world.
“We must think about our children and the future for them, to teach them to behave, to be a better person and to create a better world.”