A group of more than 100 Black MLS players and staff took part in a powerful pre-game tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement before the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament.
Prior to kickoff of Orlando City’s eventual 2-1 win over Inter Miami, players from both teams kneeled and stood with their right fists in the air — all in unison on the field and observed a moment of silence organized by the MLS Black Players for Change.
The moment of silence, which lasted 8 minutes and 46 seconds, paid tribute to George Floyd, who was brutally killed by Minnesota police last May, sparking protests around the world against racism and police brutality.
“We all know we want to change the world,” said Orlando City captain Nani. “We want a better world, we want people to look to everyone without difference, [as the] same. No difference between anyone. No discrimination, whether in football or nationality. I think the decision at the beginning of the game, the performance by everyone, was beautiful. It’s emotional for the ones who are there.”
“I was there and I felt for a couple of moments and I started thinking: everyone in the world should stop for a minute and start thinking toward this attitude and see what we can all do to make a difference in the world.”
For Inter Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles, the message before Wednesday’s opener was clear and powerful: Black Lives Matter.
“It was a beautiful ceremony with a powerful message,” said Robles post-game. “For the Black Players Coalition to organize and coordinate the way they did, they should be very, very proud of what they did.”
Robles, who joined Inter Miami at the start of the season and currently serves on the executive board of the MLS Players Association, expressed how important it is to not only be an athlete but to have an influence on the community.
“It’s something as an athlete, you really have to consider,” he said. “When we look at the position that we have to influence our community, our nation and the fans of this league, to be able to do something like that is a very positive thing.”
“It was very emotional at the beginning,” said Inter Miam forward Juan Agudelo. “It was a beautiful scene. All the players coming together on the field like that as one, being on the field, I could tell you it was very powerful to put my fist up.”