MLS has released a statement on players from the USA and Canada kneeling during the national anthem played before games.
The top-tier of soccer in North America has moved to “reiterate a longstanding position supporting players’ right to peacefully protest during national anthems before games” and adds that MLS commissioner Don Garber supports players’ freedom of expression.
Following Colin Kaepernick starting the protest against police brutality in the USA by kneeling during the national anthems in 2016, USWNT and NWSL star Megan Rapinoe followed suit.
Both have been heavily criticized and U.S. Soccer added an ‘Anthem Policy’ for both the women’s and men’s national teams saying they should stand for the anthem. That policy is something that is due to be removed as the USWNT have asked U.S. Soccer to do so and for an apology to be issued to players and staff.
Here is the statement from MLS on their current stance on kneeling during the national anthem:
“While fostering an environment of diversity, equality and inclusion, Major League Soccer stands by the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest that are the hallmarks of the United States and Canada. If players or staff decide to stand, kneel or otherwise exercise their right to peaceful protest during the playing of the National Anthems before league games, we support them.”
Across the Bundesliga in recent weeks, players have worn armbands and shirts with the message ‘Black Lives Matter’ while teams have taken a knee together before games to protest against police brutality and honor the life of George Floyd who was killed in Minneapolis on May 25. Police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with the murder of Floyd and widespread protests have taken place across the USA and the world to call for change.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has asked associations across the globe to use ‘common sense’ when it comes to following the rules the governing body has over players sharing political, religious or personal messages while on the pitch. Infantino added that those players showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and to honor George Floyd should be ‘applauded and not punished’ for their actions.