NCFC, Courage owner, players walking the walk for social justice

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik sits on the US Soccer Board of Directors and in the last week had been advocating to remove a rule banning national team players from peacefully protesting during the anthem. Tuesday, that effort came to fruition as the rule was officially struck down

"You're part of the solution or you're standing in the way at the least," Malik told ABC11.

As a board member, he isn't officially supposed to be talking about this stuff, but Malik said he feels it's too important not to.

"I think we all have to make individual decisions about what we're going to do to take the energy that's out there and try to make lasting social change," Malik said.

There was some disagreement on the board about the decision just as there is among the public. Malik sees both sides.

"There's certainly something to representing your country wearing your crest and being respectful and honoring that," he said. "There's also something to peacefully protesting an injustice."

Courage star, USWNT team member and World Cup champion Jessica McDonald told ABC11 that it is a popular topic of discussion on the national team.

"Some people feel uncomfortable doing it obviously, and some people don't," McDonald said. "It's all about people's preferences and we have to respect that at the end of the day. What's so incredible about this team is that we're able to talk about these things and talk about these issues."

McDonald says the vote to allow peaceful protest during the national anthem is a welcome change.

"I think it's a very beautiful thing because there's just a lot of support going on right now, and it's kind of nice to keep that momentum going in any kind of way possible as long as it's peaceful," she said.

She said Courage players feel absolutely supported by team management and ownership and genuinely feels like this may be a worldwide tipping point towards racial equality and justice.

"The entire globe! I just heard the other day New Zealand is protesting. New Zealand!" McDonald exclaimed, "it's not even blacks fighting for blacks right now. It's literally everybody fighting for blacks and that is such a beautiful thing. This is the first time any of my friends have even asked me about it, showing concern, saying they're sorry. What can they do, you know, how can they speak out?"

Malik said he and his teams are ready to walk the walk.

"Now's the time to get on board with making us a better country and a better world," he said.
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