Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya doesn’t regret making his public message to Congress on Sunday.
Not one bit.
Bedoya scored the first goal just minutes into Philadelphia’s 5-1 win against D.C. United in Washington, and delivered a very clear message to Congress in the wake of the latest mass shootings in the United States.
“Hey Congress, do something now!” Bedoya yelled into the field microphone at Audi Field, which was being broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 1. “End gun violence, let’s go!”
A suspect opened fire inside a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday morning, leaving 22 people dead and injuring dozens more. That shooting marked the deadliest of the year.
Then, hours later across the country, another shooter opened fire at a bar in Dayton, Ohio. Nine people died, including the alleged gunman’s sister, and 27 were injured. That shooting marked the 251st mass shooting this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Sunday was just the 216th day in the calendar year.
Bedoya received plenty of support after the game, from both his team and his coach. A police officer even approached him in the tunnel after the game to thank him for his message.
MLS also declined to punish him for his actions.
Bedoya said he spent most of his bus ride from Philadelphia to D.C. on Saturday reading about the shooting in El Paso and texting about it in a group with his friends. Then, on Sunday morning, he heard about the second shooting in Dayton.
Since he scored less than five minutes into the game, and it was fresh on his mind, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for his message.
“Maybe it was a sign from God to do something right now, and that’s what came out in the moment,” Bedoya said Tuesday, via Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. “I think what I said was something that’s politically non-partisan. I think many Americans and people in general share the same sentiment and emotions and feelings.
“I didn’t blame anybody. I pointed at Congress, but Congress is made up of the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats and independents. It’s just something that we all feel in this moment that we need to do something to come together on this type of gun violence and mass shootings.”
Wanting athletes to stick to sports is the ‘dumbest thing ever’
Bedoya, who has spoken out about the issue repeatedly both in person and on social media, doesn’t regret using his platform to speak about what he believes in. Sports and politics, he said, aren’t meant to be separated.
“I think [stick to sports] is the dumbest thing ever, to be quite frank,” Bedoya said, via Sports Illustrated. “Because as much as people want sports to be an escape from everyday life or politics, politics and sports have always been intertwined. Muhammad Ali. African American track and field athletes. All this stuff even now with people speaking out about the criminal justice system.
“Yes, we’re blessed with our athletic ability maybe, but before we’re athletes we’re human beings. We feel this stuff. We’re not robots. We’re affected by things, whether directly or indirectly. So it’s only normal at times that people get emotional and need to say something.”
And just because he has received some backlash for his actions, Bedoya isn’t going to start sticking to sports from now on.
Speaking out is his right, just like any other American, he said. He’s going to exercise it.
“I think being together with a Norwegian [his partner, Bea Hilland] and living abroad in Europe has really opened my perspective on a lot of things,” Bedoya said, via Sports Illustrated. “I still believe America is the best and it’s a great country, but it can be blinded by the fact that a lot needs to be done to get better as a society.
“As a concerned citizen, my right in a democracy is to sometimes voice my opinion. I’m a human being first. I say what I think, and that’s it.”
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