Previous to the Union’s 1-1 draw on the New England Revolution, Union gamers wore orange T-shirts with the message ‘END GUN VIOLENCE’ throughout pre-match warm-ups. Throughout the sport, Union captain Alejandro Bedoya wore a black and white armband with the identical message.
The protest got here in response to mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, on Could 24, which left 21 individuals useless, together with 19 kids.
After the match, Bedoya spoke at size in a press convention on a difficulty he has lengthy been a vocal campaigner on. Right here is the transcript of his remarks, barely edited for readability.
First, Bedoya was requested what it meant to get the message out that the workforce did.
I suppose the best solution to put it’s that some issues are extra necessary than sports activities, you recognize? I simply need to ship my condolences to all these households who’re grieving in Uvalde [Texas] and Buffalo [New York]throughout this nation, and each time this stuff occur.
As quickly because it occurred [in Uvalde], it was so arduous to course of. I used to be instructed by my spouse, who simply earlier than dinner that day broke down in tears. I requested, ‘What’s improper?’ And he or she instructed me, confirmed me her cellphone, the title. And I instantly misplaced my urge for food for dinner.
I hugged and kissed my kids, held them very shut, like many different Individuals did. And I imply, yeah, I simply can’t think about what these households are going by means of, and what so many different households are going by means of when confronted with these things. Previously, we have performed different issues, you recognize, initiatives to point out our help — but in addition to take a stand.
I feel after we discuss American exceptionalism, is that actually what it appears like? You recognize? I imply, the assertion is, you recognize, possibly just a little hyperbolic. You are by no means going to finish it, after all. However I imply, one thing needs to be performed about it. We can’t sit idly by, simply sending ideas and prayers and seeing phrases. I am positive they’d have reasonably had their kids than prayers.
So I proceed to hope for them, after all, after all. However we have now to do one thing with the individuals in energy. We’re thought-about – or some assume – the best nation on the earth. Nicely, not with any such gun violence, the place we worry for our lives, the place our youngsters must be taught to cover behind desks, to get bloodstained to faux they’re useless.
I imply, I get so emotional simply interested by what they are going by means of. And there are many options the place each events can come down the aisle and make it tougher – to finish these things. And let me let you know one thing, the answer is to not arm extra lecturers. They’re not weapons. And it is to not flip our colleges into prisons. And it isn’t the absence of a father. It is not simply psychological well being.
In fact, a few of these individuals vote in opposition to funding medicare and, you recognize, common well being care or psychological well being. That man in Texas, the governor [Greg Abbott]he fought to decrease the age restrict [to buy certain kinds of guns] at 18 in Texas. What does an 18 yr outdated do, why does he want to purchase assault rifles, or an AR-15, an ArmaLite rifle? Why?
You’ll be able to’t even purchase a case of beer till you are 21. Automotive rental companies, you may’t even hire a automotive till you are 25 [without paying extra fees]. However an 18-year-old highschool child can exit and purchase a scary AR-15, two of them, and different handguns and stuff, and hundreds of ammo [rounds], and stuff like that? Come on man. It isn’t truthful. No.
This isn’t American exceptionalism. It isn’t freedom that we now must look over our backs on a regular basis.
I went two days in the past to a pageant round my neighborhood block. And simply being scared, like, being scared. Go searching, contact individuals, consider, you recognize, exit methods – the place I can run in case I hear one thing. And I am positive tens of millions of Individuals really feel the identical once they stroll right into a grocery retailer, a movie show, a spot of worship, a faculty.
” LEARN MORE: Alejandro Bedoya has a habit of not sticking to sports
Making an attempt to promote bulletproof backpacks to children. Go on. It is loopy. Individuals want to face up and act. Fund community-based gun violence intervention packages. There’s an HR-8 invoice within the Senate, common background checks, which tens of millions of Individuals – a majority of Individuals – can help and help.
Shut the “Charleston loophole”. On the federal degree, pink flag legal guidelines. I imply, there are such a lot of initiatives that we will help and help, and attain these in energy.
And that is all you are able to do with that type of assertion, you recognize?
I gathered the group. Now we have a dressing room stuffed with worldwide gamers. My teammates from Norway, England [countries], a Dane — you recognize, all around the world. They arrive right here and so they cannot fathom, they do not perceive the obsession and why a lot of these mass shootings are occurring on this nation. Why do we have now to dwell like this?
In order that’s most likely an extended reply than you wished to listen to, however I am sick of getting to speak about this, man. This [stinks], it is exhausting. And [what] what we will do as gamers is simply maintain utilizing our platform to ask these in energy to do one thing about it, to do extra. As a result of what’s there proper now, it isn’t working.
Bedoya was then requested what it meant to him that many other teams and players around MLS rose this weekend to make statements on this difficulty.
I feel that is nice. I feel when you will have a gaggle of individuals coming collectively to take a stand on one thing which means greater than soccer, you recognize, there are individuals telling us to close up and dribble, or persist with the soccer, or no matter. I instructed you, I simply instructed you, this stuff are extra necessary than sport, than soccer.
I imply, we’re simply speaking about popping out of per week the place we noticed 19 children shot, two lecturers. It is disgusting, it is dreadful, horrible! So our human aspect takes over, would not it? It is simply regular to behave like that, to have that type of response.
And I help all of my teammates – you recognize, I suppose you may name it brotherhood right here on this league. I have never actually spoken to anybody else within the league earlier than that. I am positive within the locker room, everybody, you recognize, within the office, clearly we have been speaking about all of it week, proper? I imply, how to not discuss it?
I don’t know what the opposite groups did. I am positive I am going to see later, you recognize, on social media what different golf equipment may have performed.
However for us, it was fairly easy. I obtained the group collectively and mentioned, “Pay attention, guys.” They know the place I stand on various things. Now we have an open dialogue on this locker room, we have created an excellent tradition, and we simply had a superb dialog one morning about what we may do. Open flooring, open dialogue. Numerous initiatives had been on the desk. And that is what makes this locker room particular.
I’m proud to be a part of this group. And I did not care what anybody else instructed us. If it was the league, or the [Union’s] entrance workplace, or what anybody would say, whether or not they had been for it or in opposition to it. What solely mattered was how I felt, what this group mentioned, and the way robust we felt to at the least do this tonight. It was a little bit of our help that we may present, and like I mentioned, we’re simply going to maintain utilizing our platform.
Bedoya was then requested who helped order the t-shirts and get them printed.
I spoke to our equipment man, ‘B’ as we name him [Brandon Comisky, the Union’s equipment chief]. I all the time have a dialogue with him when it comes to issues I want to do, both have an armband or T-shirts or no matter, and he does.
So, because of him, and [on] such brief discover, due to turnover. Everybody is aware of that offer chain points are an issue as of late, proper? He may do it.
Erica [Scheer of the Union’s PR staff] as effectively; Erica was additionally useful. She coordinated with ‘B.’
Lastly, Bedoya was requested how troublesome it’s to keep up hope and imagine that change could be achieved.
Sure, I imply, you need to keep optimistic. And as I mentioned, I’ll all the time proceed to make use of my platform. If in case you have a coronary heart, or a human being, I suppose, emotions, I imply, how does that not hit you so arduous? What has occurred in latest weeks and past?
You recognize, I can not even let you know the variety of mass shootings we have seen thus far this yr — and the extent of gun violence that impacts all Philadelphians domestically as effectively. Simply heartbreaking.
And as I mentioned earlier than, our society, it might probably’t go on dwelling like this. We want actual, actual options and issues that change and achievable actions and initiatives – like, now. Not wait per week and 10 days and all the things is again to regular. And, you recognize, all of it goes away, and that is the following huge headline and issues like that. Like now. Do one thing.
I am critical [stinks] that we all the time have to come back again to that. It is arduous to remain constructive or keep that optimism. However I feel with the following era and all the things, you recognize, we simply must maintain utilizing our voices and utilizing social media and our platforms to maintain advocating for issues to get higher. As a result of as an excellent nation [as] America is, there are plenty of issues that must be improved. And that is an enormous, large drawback.