A National Women’s Soccer League player received praise on social media as a photo surfaced of her standing for the national anthem while others knelt to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S.
Samantha Murphy, who is a backup goalie for the North Carolina Courage, was identified as the player who was standing during the national anthem on the sideline, according to the Deseret News. Murphy was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt during warmups.
Murphy, also known as Samantha Leshnak, reportedly did take a knee in solidarity with other players while the public address announcer at Zions Bank Stadium read a statement to honor victims of racial injustice.
The Courage and their opponents, the Portland Thorns, released a joint statement.
“We took a knee today to protest racial injustice, police brutality, and systemic racism against Black people and people of color in America. We love our country and we have taken this opportunity to hold it to a higher standard. It is our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms this nation was founded upon are extended to everyone,” the statement read, according to the Deseret News.
Several players knelt during the national anthem once the NWSL opened up play. The league, which was the first professional team sport to return since the pandemic shut things down, expressed its support for whatever the players wanted to do.
“Today, hopefully, it was a powerful statement,” Courage midfielder Sam Mewis said after the match. “It was an emotional time and I hope that both teams' message comes through clearly.”
The Courage won, 2-1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.