The Philadelphia Union players came out for the MLS is Back Tournament game against New York City FC in Kissimmee, Florida on Thursday. On the back of each jersey were the names of the black victims of police brutality.
The team jerseys also carried the message: “One name, too many” at the end in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement for social justice.
The Union players walked out of the house wearing “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts, then took them off for the team photo, turned around, and revealed that their last names on the back of their jerseys had been replaced by victims of police violence, including those (George) Floyd, (Breonna) Taylor, (John) Crawford, (Eric) Garner, (Alton) Sterling and (Tamir) Rice.
The Philadelphia Union jerseys honor the names of members of the Black Community who lost their lives due to police brutality. pic.twitter.com/NWQZrlgvpq
̵1; ESPN (@espn) July 9, 2020
“Our players stand together,” read a tweet from the team. “One name too many.”
During the game, which took place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, Union players also wore shin guards labeled “enough is enough” with the hashtag “end racism” and raised fists.
Union goalkeeper Andre Blake had the last name George Floyd on the back of his shirt.
Union manager Jim Curtin expressed his support for the players.
“In the beginning, things are certainly much bigger than soccer in our country,” he said after the game that Philadelphia won 1-0. “I have to say that I have been very proud of my players over the past four months in terms of the leadership they have shown, the leadership they have taken in the BLM movement and the training of the other players in ours Team.
“Today’s idea was action over permission. I hope the league understands it. It was done to show respect, learn to grow, make our country better. I am really proud of my players for everything they do have done. “”
Union defender Ray Gaddis, whose shirt was surnamed Breonna Taylor, said the idea came from talking to all of the team’s players.
“It was about continuing the conversation that needs to be held. We primarily asked our team if they would agree because solidarity is key and we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable,” said Gaddis after the Game. “Actions are louder than words. Again, this is about promoting conversation and continuing to use our platform as a voice for the voiceless. It was a collective group effort.”
Gaddis said it was important to see that the entire team was on board social change.
“It means a lot to me to be a player in the Philadelphia Union for some time,” he said. “For me in our club it shows how much solidarity we have – primarily in the field, but also outside the field. We have a great coach who has taken a position both with us and with this organization, and that is it also.” We will only improve in the future, not just as football players, but also as people. “
On Wednesday, more than 100 black MLS players raised their right fists and knelt in a similar sign of solidarity before the tournament kicked off.
In this game, some players wore T-shirts over their jerseys with the words “Black and Proud” and “Silence is Violence” before the game between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF and the starting players of both teams and the referee, kneeling the kick-off.
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In the past month, more than 170 black MLS players have founded the Black Players for Change organization, which has three goals: to have a voice in all racist matters related to MLS, to increase the representation of blacks in the MLS Players Association and that reach the highest MLS levels and affect black communities.
The kneeling protest was popularized in 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and the fist-rise reflects American John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s protest against racial inequality at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, and became part of the Black Power movement United States linked 1960s and 1970s as well as the current Black Lives Matter movement.
Kaepernick’s protest came during the game of the national anthem, which will not be played during this tournament, as the games are taking place in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Union’s game against NYCFC is the second of the MLS is Back Tournament. Orlando City defeated Inter Miami 2-1 in Wednesday’s opening game.
The competition, which takes place in a biosecure “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, makes MLS the first major North American team sport to be active again since the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March.