The USWNT was one of several soccer teams to take the knee on the field ahead of their matches on the opening day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Just before their 90-minute contest on Wednesday morning, the British women’s soccer team knelt in protest alongside their Chilean opponents. The decision was followed by the other teams that played later that day, including the United States, Sweden, and Australia.
“Taking the knee was something we spoke about as a group. We feel so strongly, and we want to show we’re united,” said Great British team captain Steph Houghton, after her team bested Chile 2-0.
“As a squad, it’s been a subject that we’ve spoken about for a few weeks now,” Houghton continued. “We want to fight all forms of discrimination, and as a group of women, we wanted to kneel against it.”
“It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as a sport,” she added.
The loss was the team’s first since January 2019, breaking a 44-game unbeaten streak.
The decision to kneel was motivated as a protest against racism and others forms of discrimination and was coordinated with the Swedish team ahead of the match. It lasted about 10 seconds before an empty Tokyo Stadium.
“For us, it really feels right to stand up for human rights,” Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt said after her team’s victory.
She added: “It was a communication with the U.S. team before, so for us, it feels good to do that, and it is something we stand for as a team.”
Members of the Australian and New Zealand game also knelt in protest before their match. The Aussies ultimately won 2-1, ending the first day of the games.
While political demonstrations are barred from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the protests came on the first day of soccer, which began a couple days before the opening ceremony and were allowed by the International Olympic Committee.
The committee determined their actions did not violate Rule 50 banning political statements.
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Original Author: Lawrence Richard