As one of only two Black managers in Major League Soccer (MLS), Montreal Impact’s Thierry Henry used his platform to make a powerful statement by taking a knee for nearly nine minutes of last night’s game with the New England Revolution.
Players, staff and officials from both sides knelt at the opening whistle to pay tribute to George Floyd and show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Henry, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt, also raised his fist during the tribute.
Kick off soon took place and the two sides began the match.
However, Henry continued to kneel, and chose to remain that way for the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of the match.
The length of time Henry knelt represents the duration prosecutors initially reported Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Prosecutors have since changed that assessment to seven minutes and 46 seconds.
The killing of the unarmed Floyd in May sparked worldwide protests.
After the game, which New England won 1-0, Henry said to reporters: “I sat down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, I guess you guys know why.
“It was just to pay tribute and show support to the cause. That was basically it. [It’s] pretty simple.”
READ: “MLS is Back Tournament” rolls on despite coronavirus concerns
Henry’s moving tribute comes after nearly 200 Black MLS players, belonging to the recently formed Black Players For Change group, each raised a fist as they stood in silence on the pitch for eight minutes and 46 seconds prior to the MLS is Back Tournament opener.
The Black players were dressed in black shirts with slogans on them like “Silence is Violence,” “Black All The Time,” and “Black and Proud.” Their black face masks said: “Black Lives Matter.”
Arsenal great Henry has previously been vocal against racism, launching the Stand Up Speak Up campaign with Nike in 2005 after an increase in racist incidents in football at the time.
“We all have stories that we can tell, but for the first time other ethnicities are involved,” Henry told ESPN on Wednesday.
“I always say back in the day, when stuff like that was happening, that I get insulted on the field for the color of my skin … I would like other ethnicities in my team to walk out before I walk out, then that would be pretty powerful.
“Because at the end of the game, I don’t want the journalist to ask the question to the Black guy. Ask the question to everybody and see if they feel our pain. That will have an impact.”