A Philadelphia Union player sent lawmakers a message about gun violence Sunday night, grabbing an on-field mic at Audi Field in Washington after scoring a goal.
During a nationally televised game against D.C. United, Philadelphia midfielder Alejandro Bedoya celebrated with teammates then sprinted to a corner of the field and took the microphone.
“Congress, do something now. End gun violence!” Bedoya shouted into the microphone. “Let’s go!”
Bedoya will not be disciplined by MLS officials for his action, according to The Post’s Steven Goff.
Bedoya’s words were not audible at Audi Field, according to a Washington Post reporter who was at the game, but he could clearly be heard on the Fox Sports 1 telecast. After the game, a 5-1 Philadelphia win, Bedoya said didn’t plan out the demonstration, but did feel he had to speak up.
“I’m not going to sit idly and wait for things to happen 50 years from now — I want change now,” he told reporters.
Bedoya, who has made more than 60 appearances with the U.S. national team, said America was “the only civilized nation where this kind of gun violence happens.”
“One thing I’ll say is, more guns are not the freaking answer,” he said. “So let’s see. Politicians are politicians, they’re backed by lobbyists and corporations, so there’s things [that] need to be done to change in the way this government is being run.”
Union Coach Jim Curtin told reporters that he supported Bedoya’s statements.
“[After] 250 shootings this year — I’m on his side,” Curtin said. “It’s outrageous. Things need to change in this country, for sure, and I’ll support anyone who speaks their mind and is intelligent and informed on it, every time. That’s what Alejandro is. He’s passionate, he cares, and again, it’s a real issue in our country now that needs change.”
On Saturday morning, 20 people were killed and dozens wounded in a shooting in El Paso, Texas. Less than 24 hours later, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine — including his sister — and wounded 27 others.
The back-to-back massacres prompted some Democrats to demand that lawmakers return to Washington from summer recess. In the aftermath, some Republicans have struggled to offer a specific legislative response, with some pointing to the influence of violent video games or issues of mental health.
“We have to get it stopped. This has been going on for years,” President Trump said Sunday afternoon, before returning to Washington from his New Jersey golf club.
Bedoya, 32, is in his fourth season with the Union. On Sunday, he noted that he grew up in Florida and played some high school games against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were killed in a shooting last year.
At the Union’s 2018 home opener, several weeks after the Parkland shooting, Bedoya wore a shirt honoring Stoneman Douglas underneath his jersey.
“It really hit close to home. Having two kids now, they should never fear having to go to school,” he said at the time.
After Philadelphia’s win over Washington, Bedoya was asked if he was concerned about a possible fine for his decision to grab the mic.
“I don’t care. Fine me if they want. You know what? I’ve got to make a stand,” he replied. “I’m a human being before I’m an athlete. … We’re all affected by this type of stuff.”
His statement was echoed by Bob Foose, the executive director of the MLS Players Association, who tweeted “his full support” for Bedoya’s exercise of free speech “on behalf of all MLS players.”
Washington’s baseball team, the Nationals, also saw a public reaction to concerns about gun violence Sunday.
Before a game in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the stadium announcer asked for a moment of silence to honor the memories of those slain in El Paso and Dayton. The quiet was interrupted by a fan who yelled, “How about doing something about it?” That was met with clapping and shouts of agreement from a few others in attendance.
"A lot of people will tell me now, and will tell [Bedoya], to shut up and stick to sports, and all the stupid lines that come up,” Curtin, the Philadelphia coach, said. “But it’s crazy in our country right now, and I think it needs to change, as well.”
Jesse Dougherty in Phoenix and Matthew Gutierrez in Washington contributed to this report.
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