NFL protests: Female sports stars are taking a stand too

Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, and Rebekkah Brunson wearing black shirts with the phrase “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability.”

There's been a huge amount of coverage over the way NFL stars have been protesting against racial injustice.

American football players - including those before a match at Wembley - knelt or linked arms during the US national anthem.

The protests came after Donald Trump said that players who protested during the anthem should be fired.

But before that, female sports stars were already speaking out.

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel before a 49ers match
Image caption Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel before a San Francisco 49ers match

The protests in the NFL first started last August, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem of a pre-season game.

He was unhappy at the number of African-Americans being killed by white police officers.

At the time, President Obama defended the player's right to snub the anthem.

But protests were already taking place in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) that summer.

On 9 July, four members of the Minnesota Lynx held a press conference in support of Black Lives Matter, wearing black T-shirts with the phrase "change starts with us" on them.

The next day, players from New York Liberty warmed up before a match in black T-shirts with #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5 printed on them - the latter a reference to five police officers who were shot during a demonstration against police brutality days earlier.

Some other teams followed suit, wearing plain black T-shirts before games.

But these violated uniform rules in the WNBA, and the players were given fines of $500 (£370) each while their teams were fined too.

After protests from WNBA players, the league cancelled the fines.

Then, in September 2016, after Kaepernick and other American footballers had started kneeling in the NFL, some WNBA players followed suit.

And the WNBA protests continued this weekend.

Basketball is not the only sport where women have made a statement against police brutality and racial injustice in the US.

Megan Rapinoe kneeling
Image caption Megan Rapinoe kneeling before a match against the Netherlands

Last September, US soccer player Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before matches against Thailand and the Netherlands.

A few months later, the US Soccer Federation passed a new law which meant players had to "stand respectfully" during the anthem.

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