MLS players and coaches have been speaking out on the issues of social justice and racial inequality throughout the MLS is Back Tournament, with Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and midfielder Cristian Roldan each continuing to vocally call for change following their match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday.
Asked about his thoughts on the demonstrations of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that have taken place throughout the league, Frei said he feels part of his role is recognizing his place of privilege as a white male athlete, and using his platform to help in the fight for a more just and equal society.
"I think it's very important that everybody plays their part. I'm a white male athlete," Frei said. "I've played with people from all walks of life and I think soccer has always taught me to be open to everybody and be accepting of everybody and to try and find a way to work together — to make sure that everybody's good and you pull in the right direction.
"For me, as a white male athlete, it's important to listen. It's important to educate myself. But I want to be part of it, I think everybody has to be a part of it to find a solution, because what we've seen with George Floyd's senseless murder, I think was the last straw. The rawness of that video I think upset a lot of people, and hopefully that senseless murder finally will have some meaningful change in the right direction to go towards that American dream. We're supposed to be the land of free, justice for all, all that fun stuff -- let's make it count, I want to really work towards that. That's what I want to see."
Roldan reiterated a sentiment he expressed previously in the leadup to the tournament — that the issues being fought for aren't political, but rather about basic and fundamental human rights. The Sounders wore Black Lives Matter armbands in solidarity with the movement on Friday, with Roldan emphasizing the importance of making sure those symbolic gestures are part of subsequent tangible action to create meaningful change.
"Enough is enough, we can all live by that," Roldan said. "We're not fighting for something political, this is racial equality. We have these [arm] bands that were player-driven. We want to support local business in Seattle, we want to eventually take action. Not just wear [the bands], so support local businesses, reform happen, as well as auctioning off these bands and signing them and supporting local businesses. It's not just a front, it's not just wearing something that says Black Lives Matter, it's actually taking action. I want to encourage everybody to do so and also wear a mask out in public."