NWSL

NWSL to revise pregame ceremonies, allow players to remain in locker room during national anthem

NWSL to revise pregame ceremonies, allow players to remain in locker room during national anthem

The NWSL will revise its pregame ceremonies for the NWSL Challenge Cup, allowing players to remain in the locker room when the national anthem is played, the league said in a statement on Monday.

The decision comes after the first weekend of the tournament which included many players kneeling during the anthem in an act of peaceful protest to bring attention to the police brutality and racial injustice in America. Many players also wore Black Lives Matter shirts over their jerseys during the pregame ceremony.

RELATED: NWSL PLAYERS KNEEL, WEAR BLACK LIVES MATTER SHIRTS

Understanding the gravity and emotion of the situation, the NWSL is working to provide a flexible plan for all players involved. Players can still take the field for the anthem and kneel, but they can also remain in the locker room if they feel more comfortable.

"The NWSL stands behind every player, official and staff member. Kneel on the field. Stand with your hand over your heart. Honor your feelings in the privacy of the locker room or at midfield," NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said.

The NWSL Challenge Cup is an eight-team tournament in place of the league's standard season. Teams are currently participating in preliminary games for seeding in the knockout tournament.

NWSL players kneel, wear Black Lives Matter shirts during national anthem

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NWSL

NWSL players kneel, wear Black Lives Matter shirts during national anthem

During the inaugural game of the NWSL Challenge Cup, players from the NC Courage and Portland Thorns FC kneeled during the singing of the national anthem. Additionally, the teams wore shirts that read 'Black Lives Matter' on them.

The act of kneeling during the national anthem is something that became highly discussed back in 2016 when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick used the action to bring attention to racial injustice and police brutality in America.

Following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer in May, civil unrest and protests have occurred across the country. Numerous athletes from all the professional sports have already stated that they will kneel and peaceful protest when their respective sports return.

With the NWSL being the first Ameican team sports league to return amid the coronavirus pandemic, the players showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

RELATED: HOW TO WATCH SPIRIT IN NWSL CHALLENGE CUP

The NWSL Challenge Cup is an eight-team tournament in place of the league's standard season. Teams are currently participating in preliminary games for seeding in the knockout tournament.

How to Watch the Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL Challenge Cup

How to Watch the Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL Challenge Cup

The Washington Spirit will play their first game in the inaugural Challenge Cup on Saturday against the Chicago Red Stars at 10:00 p.m. ET.

The tournament, which is a substitute for a standard season due to the coronavirus pandemic, will take place in Herriman, Utah. Eight of the nine teams in the league will participate, with the Orlando Pride opting out after 10 members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19.

The Spirit's matchup against the Red Stars is the first of four preliminary matchups that will determine seeding for the knockout round. Washington's roster features the likes of USWNT star Rose Lavelle, international players Jenna Hellstrom (Canada), Kumi Yokoyama (Japan) and 2020 first-round draft pick Ashley Sanchez from UCLA. All eligible players on the team are participating.

Here's everything you need to know about Washington's first game in the NWSL Challenge Cup:

HOW TO WATCH: WASHINGTON SPIRIT vs. CHICAGO RED STARS NWSL CHALLENGE CUP

Who: Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars 

What: NWSL Challenge Cup Preliminary Game

Where: Herriman, Utah

When: 10:00 p.m. ET

Broadcast: CBS All-Access 

WASHINGTON SPIRIT 2020 CHALLENGE CUP SCHEDULE:

Preliminary Round

Saturday, June 27: Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit, 10:00 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Wednesday, July 1: Washington Spirit vs. NC Courage, 10:00 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Sunday, July 5: Portland Thorns FC vs. Washington Spirit, 10:00 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Sunday, July 12: Washington Spirit vs. Houston Dash, 12:30 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)

Quarterfinal Round

Saturday, July 17- Sunday, July 18: 10:30 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)

Semifinal Round

Wednesday, July 22: 10:30 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)

Championship

Sunday, July 26: 10:30 a.m. ET (CBS & CBS All Access)

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