Union players walked out wearing “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts, but removed them for the team photo, turned around and revealed that their surnames on the back of their shirts had been replaced by victims of police violence, including (Breonna) Taylor, (John) Crawford, (Eric) Garner, (Alton) Sterling and (Tamir) Rice.
Philadelphia Union jerseys honor the names of members of the black community who lost their lives as a result of police brutality. pic.twitter.com/NWQZrlgvpq
– ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2020
“Our players are united,” reads a tweet from the team. “One name too many. ”
During the match, which took place inside ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, Union players also wore shin guards that said “enough is enough”, with the hashtag “end racism “and a raised fist in the photo.
Union goalkeeper Andre Blake had the last name of George Floyd on the back of his shirt.
Union manager Jim Curtin expressed support for the players.
“At the start, things are certainly going on in our country that are much bigger than football,” he said after the game, won by Philadelphia 1-0. “I must say that I am very proud of my players over the past four months for the leadership they have shown, the leadership role they have played in the BLM movement, in educating the other players on our team.
“The idea today was an action rather than an authorization; I hope the league understands it. It was done to show respect, to learn, to grow, to improve our country. I am really proud of my players for everything they have done. »»
Union defender Ray Gaddis, whose jersey was named after Breonna Taylor, said the idea came from all the players on the team.
“It was to continue the conversation that was to take place. We first and foremost asked our team if they agreed, because solidarity is the key and we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable, ”said Gaddis after the match. “Actions are stronger than words. Again, this is to move the conversation forward and continue to use our platform to be a voice for the voiceless. It was a collective group effort. ”
Gaddis said it was important to see the whole team involved in social change.
To me being a player in the Philadelphia Union for quite some time now means a lot, “he said. For me, within our club, it shows how much we are united on the field above all, but off the field. . We have an excellent coach who has taken a stand with us and this organization and this will only improve us in the future, not only as footballers, but also as human beings. ”
On Wednesday, more than 100 Black MLS players raised their right fists and knelt before the opening of the tournament in a single demonstration of solidarity.
During this match, some players wore t-shirts on their jerseys with the words “Black and Proud” and “Silence is Violence” before the match between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF, and the players from both teams. as well as the arbitrators. took a knee before kick-off.
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Last month, more than 170 Black MLS players formed the Black Players for Change organization, which has three goals: to have a voice in all racial issues related to MLS, to increase the representation of blacks in the MLS Players Association and the highest levels of MLS, and making an impact in black communities.
The kneeling protest was popularized by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, and the raised fists reflect the protest against American racial inequality John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and became associated with the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s as well as the current Black Lives Matter movement.
Kaepernick’s protest came during the reading of the national anthem, which will not be played during the tournament, since the matches are played in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Union game against NYCFC is the second in the MLS is Back tournament. Orlando City defeated Inter Miami 2-1 on Wednesday.
The competition takes place in a biological safety “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex and is the first major North American team sport to resume its activities since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the sports calendar in mid -March.