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Why are MLS, NBA and other U.S. sports cancelling matches?

23:13 BST 27/08/2020
Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City BLM
Jacob Blake's shooting has prompted several athletes to boycott their matches in order to show their support in the fight for racial justice

A handful of games in America were cancelled in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Games across the NBA, MLS, MLB and WNBA were called off with players boycotting the matches in order to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Two demonstrators were killed two days after Blake's shooting at a protest in Kenosha by a 17-year-old white man.

Blake's shooting invigorated protests for racial justice taking place across America, further igniting the racial tension throughout the country that has been growing for months. That movement has now seen strong support across sport, stemming from George Floyd being killed by a white police offer in May.

  1. What teams have boycotted games?
  2. Will the NBA and MLS seasons be called off?
  3. Why are protests happening in America?

What teams have boycotted games?

Severa NBA teams had boycotted their fixtures, starting with Milwaukee Bucks calling off Game 5 of their play-off series against the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks were meant to emerge from their locker room and take the court at 4pm on Wednesday, but instead released a statement later that afternoon condemning the police actions and calling for justice for Blake: "When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. 

“In this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”

The Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball also decided to forego their game.

MLS sides soon followed suit with a boycott of their own, with five games postponed on Wednesday evening as several players took their own collective stands against racism.

Atlanta United vs Inter Miami, FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids, Portland Timbers vs San Jose Earthquakes, Real Salt Lake vs LAFC and LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders were all postponed with players refusing to participate in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Players involved in Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City, which went ahead on Tuesday, kneeled beforehand.

The only match played on Wednesday was between Orlando City and Nashville SC, with former Manchester United player Nani stating he was not aware other matches had been postponed: “We didn’t know. We understand and we respect what’s going on and what the other teams did.

“This is a situation we must stick together from today to try to do our best to see what we can help and what we can support.”

Players in MLB and the WNBA also boycotted their games, while the Women's Super League have also outlined their support for the movement.

“MLS unequivocally condemns racism and has always stood for equality, but we need to do more to take tangible steps to impact change,” an MLS statement read.

“We will continue to work with our players, our clubs and the broader soccer community to harness our collective power to fight for equality and social justice.”

Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha said: “People will miss out on the entertainment, but at the end of the day it’s entertainment. There are other things going on which are essentially life and death, which should be a bigger part of any conversation that exists today.”

Will the NBA and MLS seasons be called off?

Reports stated that the LA Clippers and LA Lakers had voted to cancel the NBA season on Wednesday night, but according to ESPN, players have decided to continue with the play-offs following a meeting held on Thursday.

Further meetings are to be held to discuss how the league can better address issues related to social injustice and racism.

MLS stated that the postponed games would be rescheduled: "Major League Soccer has made the decision to postpone the remaining five matches - Miami vs Atlanta, Dallas vs Colorado, Real Salt Lake vs LAFC, San Jose vs Portland, LA Galaxy vs Seattle - scheduled for this evening.

"Each match will be rescheduled."

Why are protests happening in America?

Protests are still ongoing throughout America following the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed on May 25 by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The police officer responsible was not initially arrested, but was later charged with second-degree murder.

America has a dark and ugly history of systemic racism in tangent with police brutality, with the latest events in Kenosha further re-igniting and amplifying discussions about racial inequality at the hands of the current criminal justice system.