NWSL's Thorns, Courage Kneel During National Anthem at 2020 Challenge Cup Opener

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 27, 2020

This image taken with a fisheye lens shows Zions Bank Stadium before an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match between the Portland Thorns FC and the North Carolina Courage, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Prior to the opening game of the National Women's Soccer League season, players for both the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns took a knee during the national anthem. 

All players and officials wore Black Lives Matter shirts during the demonstration:

This isn't the first time the NWSL has seen protests against systemic racism and police brutality. Megan Rapinoe took a knee in 2016 before the Seattle Reign played the Chicago Red Stars in a show of support for then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Rapinoe's stance set off a chain of events, including one NWSL team playing the anthem early to avoid having a player protest and U.S. Soccer instituting a policy that all national players had to stand for the anthem. 

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced June 10 it had repealed the anthem policy. 

Sports leagues around the world have been doing their part to spotlight systemic racism and help bring change. 

The Premier League gave players approval to kneel before or during games and to wear jerseys with "Black Lives Matter" on the back where a player's last name would normally go. 

The NWSL is the first major American sports league to return, with Saturday marking the first day of the Challenge Cup in Utah. 

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