Thierry Henry has sent a powerful message of support to the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee for the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of Montreal Impact’s game with the New England Revolution.
Wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt, the former Arsenal forward also raised his fist in solitary as players and staff across the MLS continue to pay tribute to George Floyd.
It comes after nearly 200 players raised their right fists and took a knee before the MLS is Back Tournament opener on Wednesday in Orlando, Florida.
T-shirts over kit with the words “Black and Proud” and “Silence is Violence” have also been worn with players and referees taking a knee before games.
Henry’s demonstration of eight minutes and 46 seconds is the amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of Floyd, the unarmed American black man whose death in May sparked worldwide protests.
“I sat down for 8 mins and 46 seconds, I guess you guys know why,” Henry said after the match. “That was just to pay tribute. That was it, simple.”
The kneeling protest was popularised by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 while the raised fists mirrors the protest against racial inequality by Americans John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
Premier League players have knelt at the beginning of every match since English football’s top flight resumed following the coronavirus lockdown.
On the pitch, Gustavo Bou’s 56th-minute strike was enough to see Henry’s Montreal side lose 1-0 as the Frenchman begins his first season as head coach at the club.