Thierry Henry kneeled for the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of Montreal Impact’s MLS clash with New England Revolution, as tributes to George Floyd and Black Lives Matter continue across the US.
8:46 is the same length of time that a white police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd on 25 May. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on the scene, kickstarting mass worldwide demonstrations against systemic racism.
The sporting world has been no exception to those protests, with Bundesliga players leading the charge when German football returned in May. In the Premier League, every single game since football’s resumption has seen players, staff and officials taking a knee before kick-off, in homage to NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s famous 2016 protest.
With Stateside football returning this week, Montreal boss Henry was pictured kneeling for over eight minutes during his side’s first game back. Henry’s demonstration follows rousing scenes prior to Orlando City’s fixture with Inter Miami on Thursday , in which more than 100 members of the Black Players for Change initiative took to the pitch and raised a fist before kick-off.
The protests took place at the one-off ‘MLS is Back’ tournament, which won’t count towards the final MLS standings – essentially giving teams the chance to get back up to speed in a competitive environment.
That explains why Montreal were facing New England, a team they had already beaten in February prior to football being paused.
Henry’s Montreal lost 1-0 this time around, as Victor Wanyama – of former Tottenham, Southampton and Celtic fame – made his debut.
Having been in charge since ending a ten-month break from football in November, it was Henry’s fifth ‘competitive’ game in charge, having overseen an unbeaten start to the domestic season across February and March.