The National Women’s Soccer League announced its new national anthem policy on Monday, and in the first match following that announcement, it appears that no one took advantage.
The Houston Dash and Utah Royals played on Tuesday afternoon, marking the first time that players had the option to stay in the locker room during the national anthem. Despite having that choice, players came onto the field in full force to make a statement.
With players, coaches, and referees donning Black Lives Matter t-shirts, almost everyone kneeled during the national anthem. As Jeff Kassouf of The Equalizer pointed out, it’s the first time any official has kneeled during the anthem since the Challenge Cup kicked off. In the picture he tweeted, three of the four referees were kneeling, and only a few members of the Dash chose to stand.
NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said on Monday that the new anthem policy is meant to give players the ability to express themselves more fully during the anthem, whether that means kneeling, standing, or honoring their feelings privately in the locker room.
“The NWSL is a league that was built on diversity and courage and those principles will continue to drive us forward,” Baird said in a statement.
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