In a powerful statement in the fight for social justice, over 100 Black MLS players, members of the Black Players for Change (BPC), took the field at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in a joint protest before the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando (video above).
The demonstration saw players lined up across the main field ahead of the kickoff of the match between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF. The demonstration was 8 minutes and 46 seconds long in a tribute to George Floyd, who was murdered at the hands of police in Minnesota.
EXCLUSIVE: @BPCMLS gathered to make a statement and took 8 minutes and 46 sec. to do it before the first game in the #MLSisBack Tournament. Read about why this protest was so important to them and why it won't be the last by this group. https://t.co/Si1XonzsRW via @tennessean— Drake Hills (@LiveLifeDrake) July 9, 2020
Black Players for Change is an organization of more than 170 Black MLS players that was formed to give Black players in MLS a voice and assist in making systemic change both inside and outside of MLS.
The on-field demonstration was one of a number of initiatives that the BPC designed in collaboration with MLS and MLS Black Staff United, the league's employee resource group for Black employees.
- Warm-up Tops: Created by the Philadelphia Union's Warren Creavalle, these shirts carry messages identifying players affected by racial injustice;
- Captains' Armbands: All MLS club captains in the MLS is Back Tournament will don armbands that showcase their support for the Black Lives Matter movement;
- MLS Unites Patch: Clubs will wear a special patch for their first match of the competition with a space for players to write in the name of a person they wish to honor or an inspirational message.
- Financial Contribution: MLS and the BPC have committed to make a financial commitment to organizations that are fighting racial inequality.
- Every Save Makes A Difference: TUDN partnered with MLS WORKS and Allstate to make a donation to local charitable organizations in MLS markets that are positively impacting lives in Hispanic communities.