A 2019 World Cup final rematch is scheduled on Friday between the U.S. women’s soccer team and the Netherlands team. It is the first match the U.S. women’s soccer team will play in more than 200 days. The coronavirus pandemic shut down the team’s international competition. Also returning is the team’s commitment to being social justice activists. Just like other professional sports teams, they will show their support for Black Lives Matter by wearing it on their clothing.
The Black Lives Matter slogan will be on their warm-up clothing worn before the game. Warm-up jackets have been made with the slogan on the front for each team member. The jackets are intended to send a message as the team goes out onto the field.
We wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. This is not political, it’s a statement on human rights. pic.twitter.com/QHDAx4iv7k
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) November 27, 2020
We wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. This is not political, it’s a statement on human rights. As a team, we work towards a society where the American ideals are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systemically targeted. We collectively acknowledge injustice, as that is the first step in working towards correcting it.
To honor the words of the great John Lewis:
“When you see something that is not right,
get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble!”
The message isn’t meant to be a political one, you know, but the press release quotes and honors the words of a Democrat politician. One of the team players released a message on social media. She says it is the team’s “duty” to make such political statements. There is no word from the team’s management, though, on whether or not that duty is written into each player’s contract. Professional athletes are no longer only athletes, they are political activists. You would think that shrinking ratings of games would wake the woke players but not so far.
— Crystal Dunn | Soubrier | (@Cdunn19) November 27, 2020
“We love our country, and it is a true honor to represent America. It is also our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms that our country was founded on extend to everyone,” the statement read.
“Today, we wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team.
“As the United States Women’s National team players, we collectively work toward a society where the American ideas are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systematically targeted.
“Black Lives Matter.”
Last June, the U.S. Soccer board of directors voted to repeal their policy of requiring the women players to stand during the National Anthem. It caved to pressure after the death of George Floyd and the protests/riots that followed.
The 23-player roster includes 14 players who currently play in the National Women’s Soccer League, seven who are playing in Europe and two college players. Lindsey Horan of the NWSL’s Portland Thorns tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Jaelin Howell, who plays for Florida State and became the second college player on the roster (following Stanford’s Catarina Macario).
USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, who replaced two-time World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis, has won each of his first 10 games at the helm, tying a record for best start as U.S. women’s national team head coach.
I’ll note here that it looks like the women who are all about social justice issues, including gender issues, are coached by a man now. Now Jill Ellis, who stepped down as head coach in October 2019 after the World Cup win, works as the development director of the United States Soccer Federation, overseeing the national youth teams development program. That’s an interesting twist.
The women are not the only soccer players allowed to kneel and wear their social justice messages on their clothing. The U.S. Soccer Federation supported the men players wearing an assortment of messages on the back of their warm-up jackets before a match with Wales a couple of weeks ago. They also participated in a bit of theatre – a walkout before the game began.
The players wore the message “Be the Change” in blue on red backgrounds, and several others wore individual messages on the back of them. Some of the phrases included: “Stop Racism,” “Believe to Achieve,” “Unite in Truth,” “Spread Love Not Hate,” “Black Lives Matter” and “For Social Justice.”
“During the walkout and anthem in advance of the match against Wales today, the U.S. men’s national team players took advantage of the moment to send and spread a meaningful message,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement.
“With the goal of inspiring action on social justice issues, all of the players had ‘Be the Change’ adorned on the front of their anthem jackets. The spirit of their message is that each and every person has the ability, opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in our own way.”
The men’s coach, Gregg Berhalter, says he is proud of the players.
“I am also proud of the fact the players came together and thought about how to activate for social justice with ‘Be The Change,’” he said. “When you saw the line up at the anthems and the jackets, we want change and I was really proud of the guys.”
The men’s game against Wales ended in a draw. The score was 0-0.
You can see the various messages worn by the players HERE.
Through challenging times, opportunity emerges. 🇺🇸💪
For the first time in 10 months, the #USMNT got back on the field this week. Catch an inside look of how the young group came together in 🏴. #BehindTheCrest, presented by @VW. pic.twitter.com/K7odx9hbhO
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) November 15, 2020