On Wednesday, the San Jose Earthquakes were one of 10 teams in MLS to join an American professional athletes wildcat strike to protest racial inequality. After the game against the Portland Timbers did not take place, Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon speaking about that decision, the fight for equality and more in a wide-ranging discussion.
Another game that did not proceed Wednesday, Real Salt Lake’s game against LAFC, became a hot topic all day Thursday after RSL club owner Dell Loy Hansen blasted players on a local radio program for striking, firing employees at the stadium and in the club’s charitable organization in retaliation, calling the strike disrespectful to him and denying the racial issues that led to the national protests.
“I think it misses the whole point and it enrages me,” Wondolowski said. “I mean, for me that’s the disrespect right there. You know, I think that it’s so much bigger than a game. It has nothing to do with you personally, and I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Wondolowski went on to request Hansen sell the team, and then followed up by saying he would not want to play for him.
“I appreciate everything, all the money that you have put into this league, but that’s it, thank you, move on. I mean if you don’t believe and support your team, our system, our play, who we are as a human being, then how can we support that owner? I know I would not want to play for that owner and I think that those were very hurtful remarks.”
Rumors are circulating that the MLS Board of Governors are meeting imminently to discuss Hansen’s status with RSL, so we’ll see if any action is taken against the owner. Thursday’s remarks and robust condemnation, including from Wondolowski, indicate it could be a tipping point for Hansen’s involvement in American soccer. We’ll see what happens.
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