A day after Alejandro Bedoya won widespread acclaim for his protest against gun violence during a nationally televised Union game at D.C. United, Major League Soccer said Monday afternoon that it won’t punish Bedoya for his remarks.
After Bedoya scored the opening goal in the Union’s 5-1 win Sunday night, he ran over to a field microphone on the sideline and shouted, “Hey, Congress: Do something now! End gun violence! Let’s go!" The remarks went out live on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes’ broadcasts.
After the game, Bedoya had much more to say, including: “Politicians are politicians, you know — they’re backed by lobbyists and by corporations. There’s things that need to be done to change the way this government is being run."
MLS gave a short official statement on the matter: “The Major League Soccer family joins everyone in grieving for the loss of lives in Texas and Ohio, and we understand that our players and staff have strong and passionate views on this issue.”
There was ample speculation Sunday night that Bedoya would be fined for his remarks. A fan from Reading, Shawn Wunder, started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay the cost. It had raised $890 by the time MLS announced there would be no sanction. Wunder said he spoke with officials at the Union, and the money will be donated to a charity of Bedoya’s choosing.
“In regards to my statement during my goal celebration, it’s a shame it’s seen as a political one,” he wrote. “For me, my comments were simply humane. Sharing a sentiment that I consider most Americans can agree on. As in, we need to act like the UNITED States of America and come together to work on solutions to put an end to the gross rate of gun violence in our great country.”
Bedoya’s words drew support from around the sport. After Union manager Jim Curtin and star playmaker Marco Fabián spoke Sunday night, the team formally backed him on Twitter. Teammates Mark McKenzie, Fafa Picault, Andrew Wooten and Ray Gaddis added their support on Instagram, as did a host of players around the league.
“Always proud of this guy,” former teammate David Accam wrote.
Down in Atlanta, Bedoya’s former U.S. national team colleague Brad Guzan told reporters that he was “proud of Ale and what happened. ... I think you worry more about going to the grocery store than you do about playing in a stadium."
One of Guzan’s Atlanta United teammates, Chestnut Hill Academy alum Jeff Larentowicz, also backed Bedoya and his willingness to speak out.
“My favorite basketball player growing up was Charles Barkley, and I remember he very candidly said, ‘I’m not a role model’ in a commercial, but it’s unavoidable,” Larentowicz said. “When you’re on television, people are watching you every week and you’re doing appearances in the community; you have the opportunity to speak up.”
And the most prominent champion of political advocacy in American, U.S. women’s team star Megan Rapinoe, gave Bedoya a shout-out with applause emojis on Twitter.