SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake’s game against LAFC at Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday night has been cancelled in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
This was supposed to be the first home game for RSL since March 7th, and some 5,000 fans were going to be allowed in to watch the game in person.
In fact, hundreds of fans were in the stadium when the game was called.
But after six NBA teams boycotted three playoff games tonight, the RSL and LAFC players were in solidarity in their decision not to play tonight.
“For me personally I think it makes a very very big statement,” said RSL defender Nedum Onuoha. “Yes, people will miss out on the entertainment, but at the end of the day there are other things going on that are essentially life or death which should be a bigger part of a converstation that exists today as opposed to missing an MLS game or an NBA game.”
“I don’t know what the expectation will be going forward,” said RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath. “I know we made a very strong statement tonight, and I hope that brings along more change. But as we’ve seen over the past few months, this is going to be a movement that will last for quite a while, so there’s real change throughout our community.”
Five other MLS games were all cancelled, as were four Major League Baseball games and three WNBA games.
Both Real Salt Lake and LAFC arrived at the stadium thinking they were going to play. But after the NBA cancelled games, players on both RSL and LAFC felt it was the right thing to do the same.
“The conversation started to happen, and more and more people were on board to the point that where it almost felt like it was everybody,” said Onuoha. “I think this was a good chance to show solidarity not only as a team but as a league which is something that overall we haven’t had many opportunities to do.”
It is not known when the RSL-LAFC game will be made up.
Real Salt Lake is scheduled to play at Portland on Saturday, and Onouha said he didn’t know if that was going to take place.
“I think the biggest thing was about today and showing solidarity and support for the Milwaukee Bucks and stuff that is going on in Wisconsin right now,” he said. “This is a very, very big day. This is a very big statement. This is solidarity, not just within in the NBA, but this is solidarity within the entire sports world. What happens this weekend, I’m not sure about. But we’re living in this moment now, and we’re trying to make as big an impact as possible.”
Major League Soccer released the following statement Wednesday night:
“The entire Major League Soccer family is deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake and events in Kenosha. We continue to stand with the Black community throughout our country — including our players and employees — and share in their pain, anger and frustration.
MLS unequivocally condemns racism and has always stood for equality, but we need to do more to take tangible steps to impact change. We will continue to work with our players, our clubs and the broader soccer community to harness our collective power to fight for equality and social justice.”