When Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya scored a goal Sunday in a nationally televised Major League Soccer game against D.C. United, he ran to the on-field microphone and, just hours after at least 31 people were killed in shootings in El Paso and Dayton, shouted into it for all to hear, “Congress, do something now. End gun violence. Let's go!”
After Tuesday’s training, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath was asked if he had thoughts about MLS players speaking up on such an issue.
“Yeah, a lot of thoughts,” Heath said. “If somebody would ask me what my politics are, I would say more right wing than left wing, but the gun laws in this country blow me away. I can’t get my head around it. The sooner that people understand this is not going away unless we have tighter gun controls, then more and more of these things are going to happen.”
">Bedoya was born in New Jersey, raised in Florida and is of Colombian descent. Heath was born and raised in England before coming to the United States a decade ago to coach.
Loons defender Michael Boxall is from New Zealand. A gunman last March killed 52 people at two Christchurch mosques in his country during Friday prayers. By July, New Zealand’s prime minister announced two separate sets of new restrictions on gun ownership.
Boxall, too, had something to say about Bedoya’s words both during the game and to reporters afterward.
“I think everyone in the league really stands behind him,” Boxall said. “Anyone who supports the league, any human being would have to stand behind his statements. What really rang home with me was in the press conference after when he was asked about it. When you think about – obviously me with my little girl and my wife – it’s really something that needs to be done. Especially back in New Zealand earlier this year when you have the massacre that happened, the terrorism that happened back in New Zealand. The reaction, the prime minister did react so quickly.
“I mean, it’s possible. When people just want to put other things to the side and focus on what’s important, then that’s when you see change. But it has happened far too often here.”
Bedoya, a former teammate of new Loons defender Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat in France, was asked about his statement after Sunday’s game.
“I’m not going to sit idly by and watch this stuff happen and not say something,” Bedoya told reporters. “Before I’m an athlete, before I’m a soccer player, I’m a human being first. This stuff affects me. I’ve got kids. I can’t be the only one here, all you guys I’m sure feel the same way. In this day and age, our society, I’m dropping my kids off at school and I’m looking around thinking about exit strategy. At the mall, at a movie theatre, when I’m at a concert or a festival down the street.
“Something’s got to be done. We’ve come to the point where we’re almost numb to it and that’s a big problem.”
Heath was asked Tuesdayif if MLS needs more players to speak their mind on social issues.
“I personally do, but obviously there’s a fine line in what people can say and can’t say,” Heath said. “I get that. But we have to be careful because they’re running out of freedom of speech at the minute, it seems like unless you’re a particular way. But since I’ve been in America, one thing I can’t get me head around is the gun laws in this country and I don’t think I ever will.”