NWSL revises national anthem policy for 2020 Challenge Cup, will allow players to remain in locker room

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    The NWSL has revised its policy for the national anthem during the league’s 2020 Challenge Cup. Players will have the option of remaining in the locker room during the anthem, the NWSL announced Monday.

    The eight-team Challenge Cup started Saturday, and several players for all four teams in both of the day’s games kneeled during the national anthem in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. One of Saturday’s most memorable moments came during the national anthem in the nightcap when Chicago Red Stars players Casey Short and Julie Ertz shared an emotional moment.

    NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said Monday that the league will continue to play the anthem before games — which are being played without fans at Zion’s Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah — but wanted to give players additional “flexibility.”

    Here’s Baird’s full statement:

    “We began this tournament with several important goals. Develop a safe environment for the continuation of sport. Create an innovative competition to showcase the vitality of women’s soccer. Collaborate with our players association and develop a genuine partnership. Raise revenue to fund player compensation. And support and empower players to use their platform to make the world a better place.

    And so, we’re going to continue to play the national anthem, but with even more flexibility, and support each player’s right to express their individual views, or not.

    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.

    The NWSL is a league that was built on diversity and courage and those principles will continue to drive us forward.”

    The Challenge Cup continues Tuesday with a pair of games: The Utah Royals face the Houston Dash at 12:30 p.m. and Reign FC takes on Sky Blue FC at 10 p.m. (both times Eastern). Every game from the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup can be streamed on CBS All-Access.

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