July 24, 2020 / 1:59 AM / 10 days ago

MLB players protest racial inequality at season opener

Jul 23, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals players and coaches kneel during a Black Lives Matter display of support prior to their game against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Every member of all four teams playing on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day took a knee to protest racial inequality prior to the playing of the U.S. national anthem on Thursday.

The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees, who kicked off the COVID-19 shortened season in the nation’s capital, also held a 200-yard band of black fabric to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

All of the players then stood during the playing of the anthem.

In Los Angeles, the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants mostly followed the same playbook though both clubs continued to kneel during the anthem.

Athletes from around the world have united in solidarity behind anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

MLB said it would allow players to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ batting practice t-shirts, patches that say ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘United For Change’ on their sleeves, and a wristband featuring an inverted MLB logo where the silhouetted batter is black.

MLB posted the message “United as one” on its Twitter account along with a photo of the Giants’ Alyssa Nakken, the first woman on-field coach in league history, wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt.

The league has also lifted its restrictions on cleats for the 2020 season, giving players the freedom to express opinions related to social justice on their footwear.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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