"I was down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, I guess you guys know why," Henry said after the match. "It was just to pay tribute and show support to the cause. That was basically it. [It's] pretty simple."

The former Arsenal and France striker had called last month for urgent action to be taken to stop racism in the wake of George Floyd's death. Impact lost 1-0 in Thursday's game, their opener in the "MLS Is Back" tournament.

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The duration of Henry's tribute was a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, replicating the exact length of time that white police offer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of Floyd on May 25, causing him to suffocate to death.

Henry's protests came on the second day of the return of the MLS, with the opening night seeing a host of similar protests, with players across the league wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts and black gloves before standing in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

"This is a chance for us to take our place with the protesters, stand up against racial inequality, fight that battle and make sure our voices in Major League Soccer are heard," said Toronto FC's Justin Morrow, the executive director of the Black Players for Change organisation.

"What you have seen is a special moment that was driven by the players, and Major League Soccer collaborated with us to make that happen."

Floyd, who was 46 when he died, was recorded during arrest telling officers that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, while the three other police offers on the scene have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Floyd's death has sparked anti-racist protests across the world, with the Black Lives Matter movement attempting to highlight and correct the systemic racial inequalities in society.

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