INTER MIAMI’S MLS game was postponed at the last minute on Wednesday night as players showed solidarity with the NBA, baseball and tennis in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
All basketball play-off games were cancelled earlier in the day following the shooting at the weekend.
Along with three baseball fixtures, the Cincinnati Open also announced a halt with the USTA, ATP and WTA coming together to show “tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice.”
It comes after the shooting on Sunday which left the 29 year-old Blake paralysed from the waist down.
The unarmed black man was shot seven times in the back by a white officer in front of his young children.
Local Florida TV here suggests the newly formed MLS Black Players for Change were behind the cancellation of what was supposed to be the second home game of the season for David Beckham’s new franchise.
While Orlando City’s match in front of a reduced-capacity crowd with Nashville kicked-off 300 miles north of Lockhart Stadium, the captains from both Inter Miami and Atlanta United – Luis Robles and Brad Guzan – came together just moments before the scheduled kick-off and were locked in discussions for over 20 minutes.
Both teams were late to warm up as chaos and confusion reigned with the official word of the cancellation finally arriving over 30 minutes from the original start time of 8pm.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber had released a statement earlier in the evening confirming the League’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
But serious questions will now be raised as to why Orlando and Nashville began their match while most sports in North America had ground to a halt.
Atlanta midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said:”We want to let all of the fans know that we made a collective decision between both lockers rooms to not play tonight to stand-up and fight for social change.”
Inter’s AJ DeLaGarza added:”I think we had to make a very tough decision in front of our coaches minutes before walking out here.”
All remaining five MLS games planned for last night were also cancelled while there are fears the NBA season, which resumed recently inside a biosecure bubble at Disneyworld, could be canned.
LA Lakers superstar LeBron James blasted on Twitter: “We demand change. Sick of it.”
Former president Barack Obama commended the protest from the world of sport, saying: “It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.”
I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values. pic.twitter.com/rUGETgAt7P
In tennis, the Cincinnati Open, which is being played in New York this year due to coronavirus, is pausing for a day.
Semi-final matches in both the women’s and men’s draw were due to be played on Thursday, but will instead now take place on Friday.
Star player Naomi Osaka had tweeted earlier in the day: “As a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis”