The soccer news starts with players speaking out over their choice to boycott most of Wednesday’s MLS schedule as part of a broader sports protest over racial justice. Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz explained the timeline for the decision not to play at Inter Miami.
“It all came together organically,” Larentowicz said. “Before our team meeting at 5:45pm, I turned on ESPN and saw what was happening with the NBA. That’s when I first became aware of it. There were texts coming from players all over the league. The discussions started through those text channels. Brad (Guzan) and I met with (Inter Miami player) Luis Robles before warm-ups to see where they stood, what information they had gathered from around the league, and seeing that was happening with Orlando and Nashville. Brad was preparing, the team was preparing, I was gathering information, and we spoke with Luis and made the decision to not go forward with the game once warm-ups ended.”
With Major League Baseball players making the same choice, the protest that started in the National Basketball Association bubble in Orlando spread across sports. The result was a clear statement of intent that the United States most address racial injustice.
“For myself, and speaking for everyone in the locker room on this matter, when you share a locker room, when you share a space day in and day out, and you have to battle with that individual and you have to shed blood, sweat and tears with them, you need to have their back,” San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski said. “And you realize that everyone is equal and it’s an amazing thing. You learn so much about someone’s culture, someone’s heritage, who they are, why they think a certain way, why they became who they are. To hear their stories is empowering and that’s why I think, across all sports, you were able to have that pod of cultures and nationalities. It’s a no-brainer for people like myself. There’s no way I can say I’ve experienced the same injustices that some of these other people have experienced, but I know these are my brothers as well.”
On Thursday, Real Salt Lake investor/operator Dell Loy Hansen expressed a different opinion on the protests. As a guest on a local radio show on a station he owns, Hansen was not supportive of Real Salt Lake players joining the broader protest. Hansen took issue with not being able to play a home game in front of a socially distanced crowd. Hansen accused the players of focusing on a national issue rather than their local community who, in his view, wanted to watch a soccer game.
“It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team,” he said. “It just seems that’s not a very good path to take.”
A multiple by-lined report in The Athletic outlined accusations of racism and intolerance by Hansen from people working for the club. With MLS already releasing a statement expressing concern over the original radio interview, the league issued a follow-up.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations made in a report published this evening concerning language used by and the conduct of Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen. Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct and will immediately commence an investigation.”
Also in the soccer news, Aron Johannsson subbed on in the 55th minute of Hammarby’s 3-0 home win over Puskas Akademia to advance from the first qualifying round of the 2020-21 Europa League. Abdul Khalili scored in the 14th with Darijan Bojanic doubling the lead in the 32nd minute. Paulinho Guerreiro finished off the scoring in the 84th.
CBC Sports’ Myles Dichter talks to Dwayne De Rosario about the rise of young Canadian soccer players like Alphonso Davies. The Guardian’s Paul Wilson asks about the Premier League not restricting vacations in the midst of the pandemic and Paul Pogba testing positive for the coronavirus. Inside World Football’s David Owen looks at FIFA’s financial situation.
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Photo courtesy of Inter Miami