All players kneel during national anthem at NWSL Challenge Cup opener

NWSL and Google team up for Challenge Cup restart

Players for the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage knelt during the national anthem Saturday when the National Women's Soccer League opened the Challenge Cup tournament in Utah.

But before the first kick of the ball, players made it clear there were more important things at stake than a soccer game.

The Courage go onto win the first match of the tournament, with a header to the back of the net by Lynn Williams in extra time.

The NWSL is the highest division of women's football in the U.S. and the Challenge Cup is the first major team sports competition to take place in the country since coronavirus forced the world into shutdown.

"The Players Association supports both making a clear statement that Black Lives Matter and each player making a personal decision around whether to stand or kneel during the national anthem", the NWSLPA said, in part.

Protests versus racism and police brutality have taken position throughout the region in recent weeks adhering to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks. "It is our obligation to desire that the liberties and freedoms this country was started on are extended to all people".

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Throughout the nationwide anthem, gamers from the North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns FC took a knee at Zions Lender Stadium in Herriman, Utah, though carrying Black Lives Make any difference shirts.

The issue of kneeling prior to sports matches has always been a focus of fevered discussion inside US sport, and was in fact banned by US Soccer in 2016 when national team star Megan Rapinoe performed the act in sympathy with Kaepernick.

In a tweet, NWSL said, "In situation you haven't read, #BlackLivesMatter".

United States star Megan Rapinoe, who has opted out of the tournament, said on social media: "You love to see it".

On the field, the NWSL's eighth season got underway ahead of the other major team sports. "You like to see these girls utilizing their voice, demanding improved for The usa, and for black men and women and folks of color".

And US women's national team players Julie Ertz and Casey Short were brought to tears while kneeling during the anthem before the Chicago Red Stars met the Washington Spirit Saturday night.

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