The Black Players for Change, who officially announced themselves on June 19 as the Black Players Coalition of Major League Soccer, were on the field before the first game of the MLS is Back Tournament while Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC debuted at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Toronto FC back Justin Morrow, executive director of the coalition, said more than 170 black MLS players were expected, complemented by black coaches, club and league staff. The group was joined by protests on the knees of Orlando and Miami in the central circle, as silence flooded the air.
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The match was the first in MLS since March 8.
MLS IS BACK: What you need to know for the Orlando tournament
MLS players from across the league gathered for a demonstration of the Black Lives Matter before Orlando City against Inter Miami. pic.twitter.com/4wszNbCUG3
– ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2020
Morrow said that the message of the demonstration is “purely and simply to defend our brothers and sisters in this fight for racial equality and human rights”.
“We were very adamant that this message and protest came from us and it was authentic,” Morrow told the Tennessean in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
However, Morrow said that some players could not participate in Wednesday’s protest due to personal or health concerns. However, the entire pool of black MLS players contributed to the event.
Jalil Anibaba of Nashville has joined Morrow and 10 other black players to act as the black coalition’s board of directors. He was trained in the days following George Floyd’s death on May 25 when a white police officer kept a knee pressed down over Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. The Black Lives Matter movement quickly took center stage across the country, but Morrow wants the conversation and action to continue in MLS circles.
There will be CHANGE. ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 # MLSisBlack
Find out more here: https://t.co/etDUhQdgI8 pic.twitter.com/ngH8tVH8tG
– Black players for change (@BPCMLS) July 7, 2020
“We have seen time and time again, the cycle of violence that occurs in North America, where someone is killed – a black man or a black woman is killed – and something else happens and people forget Said Morrow. “It is our responsibility to carry this message and to ensure that (forgetting) does not happen again. ”
Morrow added that the league played an important role in helping with the logistical details, in particular in arranging each car to transport the black players from each club represented separately from the Swan and Dolphin Resort to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. In addition, league officials helped impose social distancing from the clubs as well as manage the training of the event on the field.
There will be special signage on coalition efforts and the league’s position on racism posted in the fields of the complex. Players will also wear special patches during matches.
The Black Players for Change announced Tuesday their partnership with The Players Coalition, co-founded by former NFL catcher Anquan Boldin and New Orleans defender Malcolm Jenkins.
“They expressed interest and enthusiasm for us from the start of our press release,” said Morrow of the partnership. “We couldn’t have hoped for better, right now, to have models like this – to model ourselves, to piggyback on their social justice initiatives.” It will be a good partnership. ”
As for black players for the change, Wednesday’s protest is just the beginning, said Morrow.
“We are quickly becoming a strong voice for the group of black players,” he said. “But we know we have a lot of work ahead of us to change the systemic racial issues that exist in Major League Soccer. We are there for that and we are there for the long term. ”
For stories about Nashville SC or football in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at [email protected] Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Black Players for Change field protests before the first MLS is Back game in Orlando
Video: The Black Players for Change demonstrate before the first match of the MLS Is Back tournament (The Tennessean (Nashville))