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USMNT Returns To Pitch With Messages For Social Justice

USMNT’s first match since February was the first opportunity for U.S. soccer players to make a statement on the systemic racism prevalent in the country they represent.

The USMNT played its first match since Feb. 1 on Thursday, a friendly against Wales in Swansea. It was the first time the team had taken the field since Covid-19 shut the world down, since the world watched as George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight by the police, since people around the globe began protesting systemic racism in police departments and society as a whole. And it was the first time the U.S. players had the opportunity to make their own statement as a team, and they did so with USMNT jackets featuring social justice messages.

As the U.S. players took the field for the national anthem before the Wales match, they wore USMNT jackets with “Be The Change” on the front. On the backs, 20 of the 23 players had personal messages for social change. Only Konrad de la Fuente of the starters didn’t have a message on his back for the anthem.

The messages included “Be Anti-Racist” (Reggie Cannon), “Black Lives Matter” (Sebastian Lletget), “End Police Brutality” (Owen Otasowie) and “VoyceNow” — the name of Zack Steffen’s foundation.

None of the players opted to take a knee for the national anthem in the first U.S. soccer match since the U.S. Soccer Federation repealed its anthem policy that had barred players from kneeling. The rule was put in place after Megan Rapinoe knelt before a couple games in 2016 but was repealed over the summer during the wave of protests against systemic racism in the U.S. 

Instead the players locked arms in a show of unity while wearing their statement-making USMNT jackets.

To all the asshats out there who cry about people being social justice warriors, if you aren’t a social justice warrior then please go fuck off and stay away from the beautiful game. Anyone who doesn’t recognize the work that still must be done to create an equal and just society is either willfully ignorant or just straight up racist, sexist and/or any number of discriminatory nouns that no one should want to be.

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