Why the Seattle Sounders wore Black Lives Matter shirts on their journey to Orlando

The Seattle Sounders as a team chose to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts during their travel day from Seattle to Orlando en route to compete in the MLS is Back Tournament

Afterward, they explained to the Sounders club website why they decided upon the gesture, and what they hoped would come of the movement that has found momentum in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police back in May. 

“We decided this as a locker room. It was a group decision," said Sounders fullback Kelvin Leerdam, one of the club's six black players on the current roster. "We were all on the same page. Everybody’s eyes are open and see what is going around, especially in the U.S., but also around the world. It is a very good initiative from our guys in the locker room to support one another. We are a very diverse team.”

As a white male who is trying to be an ally of teammates who are people of color, Stefan Frei explained why the message of "Black Lives Matter," in his view, is so important.

"I have an issue with people who respond 'every life matters,'" Frei said. "Yes, of course it does. That’s the issue why it’s not right, what is going on currently. We’re sitting here saying, ‘every life matters’ but the Black community has been neglected and their life has not mattered, and all minorities for that matter. So it’s important we focus on that so that the American Dream can become a reality. I want us as Americans to act on that."

Leerdam, a Suriname-born Dutch national, also felt it's important to reflect that the challenges Black players face with both overt and systemic racism exist beyond U.S. borders.

"I’ve only been here for three years," Leerdam said, "but I’ve also gone through stuff in the Netherlands. For me, it’s important to let my experience be heard. I’ve shared my experience with my teammates and it’s been good to talk about it in the locker room."

For more, visit soundersfc.com.

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