Update, 4 p.m. Aug. 5: The league will not punish Bedoya for his on-field statement, per the New York Times.
Major League Soccer still plays catchup when it comes to recognition among sports fans, so no surprise if you didn’t know who the Philadelphia Union chose as captain this year. But that’s about to change.
He’s midfielder Alejandro “Ale” Bedoya, and during a nationally televised game against the D.C. United on Sunday evening, he pulled off a stunt that’s likely to turn him into a household name.
About three minutes into the match, Bedoya, a first-generation Colombian-American who was born in New Jersey, scored the first goal of the night. After celebrating with his teammates in a sideline hugpile, he took an unexpected detour.
Instead of returning directly to his position on the field, he ran to the microphone at the corner of the pitch, and grasped it in his hands.
“Hey Congress,” Bedoya shouted into the live mic, “Do something now! End gun violence!”
The 32-year-old professional athlete was giving voice to a sentiment echoed by many Americans this weekend, which saw two mass shootings occur within hours, leaving 29 people dead and many more injured.
State prosecutors in El Paso, Texas, will pursue the death penalty against the self-proclaimed “white nationalist” shooter who let loose in a Walmart there in one of the top 10 deadliest mass murders ever in the U.S. The gunman who went on a killing spree in Dayton, Ohio, was killed by law enforcement, but not before he spread death to multiple people, including his own sister.
While the president sidestepped questions about firearms and some Republican representatives went on TV to blame video games and mental illness, many called on elected officials to make progress in enacting gun control legislation.
Both U.S. senators from Pennsylvania issued calls to action. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, said his bill expanding background checks should be passed, while Democrat Sen. Bob Casey joined a chorus of voices asking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call the Senate back from recess to take even more drastic action on the issue.
Bedoya’s mid-game mic drop gave voice to those calls. It’s a position he’s been vocal about before on social media.
He expounded on his mid-game pronouncement after the match was over.
Major League Soccer will not fine or suspend the outspoken star for his on-field comments, the New York Times reported an official said Monday morning. Later on, the league issued a statement expressing condolences for families in Texas and Ohio, and confirming that it understands “players and staff have strong and passionate views” on the issue of gun violence.
Bedoya definitely has the support of his teammates — and also legions of new fans.