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Utah Royals FC, Houston Dash Kneel During National Anthem

Players for the Portland Thorns, left, and the North Carolina Courage kneel during the national anthem before the start of their NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match at Zions Bank Stadium Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. Rick Bowmer, AP

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The entire Utah Royals FC team has knelt during the playing of the national anthem prior to kickoff against their first Challenge Cup opponent, the Houston Dash. The players knelt in solidarity to show their respect for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to kickoff, the players were also seen wearing black t-shirts with the words Black Lives Matter printed on them. Every player continues to wear the armband during the match, manager Craig Harrington wore an armband while coaching from the sideline.

The Challenge Cup, which is being hosted in Herriman Utah, is the first professional sports league return since the COVID-19 outbreak back in March.

The tournament began on Saturday, June 27 with two games. Last year’s NWSL Champions beat the Portland Thorns 2-1 in a game that saw CBS broadcast the game nationally. It was the first time a national broadcast has broadcast a women’s soccer game live. Shortly after, the Washington Spirit beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 to end the first day of matches.

During both opening games, the majority of players knelt for the national anthem. Every player was seen wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and armband.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.


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