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.
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.