2020-07-07T23:00:07+00:00)

WNBA stands by Black Lives Matter theme, defying Atlanta team's co-owner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The WNBA said it would continue to advocate for social justice issues, defying Atlanta Dream co-owner and U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler after she opposed the league’s plan to honor the Black Lives Matter movement during the upcoming season.

Loeffler, a Republican U.S. senator from Georgia, told league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a letter, “we need less — not more politics in sports,” the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported, after the league said it would recognize Black female victims of police brutality during its opening weekend.

“The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we, along with the teams and players, will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice,” Engelbert said in a written statement.

The Atlanta Dream said in a written response that it “is not a political entity.”

“We are in the business of sports and entertainment,” the team said. “The Dream players and staff are focused on building a successful team on the court, winning games and creating a second-to-none fan experience.”

Loeffler, a supporter of fellow Republican U.S. President Donald Trump, also drew sharp criticism in June for her comments on protesters in Atlanta.

“@WNBA should stand for and unite around the American Flag — not divisive political movements like BLM that unapologetically seek to defund the police,” Loeffler said in a tweet Tuesday, as players moved to condemn her remarks.

“E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!” the WNBA players union tweeted on Tuesday, as teams across the league traveled to Florida, where the season is expected to kick off later this month.

Engelbert said that Loeffler has not been a governor on the team since October “and is no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team.”

Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by David Gregorio

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