One day after a player-led movement in the NBA to not play a playoff game transformed to hundreds of athletes protesting their respective games across professional sports, FC Cincinnati winger Joseph-Claude Gyau spoke with reporters to address his thoughts on the situation and his desired outcome.
Gyau opened his interview segment with a powerful speech commending other athletes and condemning systemic racism across the country.
“It was a historical moment and I just commend all the players for taking a stand and getting in front of such a tragic event and letting people know that enough is enough,” he said. “With sports continuing, it kind of gave the chance for the conversation to die down a little bit. The players want to make it noted that this is not something that has gone away.
“A lot of people tend to say we’re bringing politics into the game, but this is not a political stance. This is basic human rights. People standing up for their freedom, standing up for their rights, standing up for their life, basically. We don’t want to be killed anymore. We don’t want to be shot anymore. There’s nothing political about that.”
After the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to play their playoff game, other NBA teams protested against playing. Not long after, the Cincinnati Reds game against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed, and other MLB teams, the WNBA and all but one MLS match was postponed.
The decision came following the police shooting Jacob Blake seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin – months after the shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black men and women.
“I definitely think it was important to bring awareness back to the issues at hand,” Gyau said.
Had FCC’s game on Tuesday – the 3-0 loss at Chicago Fire FC – been scheduled Wednesday night, he said the team would’ve protested the game along with other MLS clubs.
Photo by Aaron Doster | USA TODAY Sports
As for Saturday night’s match with Columbus Crew SC, Gyau said there have been discussions in the locker room and the team is continuing to prep for the upcoming #HellisReal Derby.
“It was a spur of the moment thing,” Gyau said about Wednesday. “I can’t really dictate what’s going to happen Saturday. As of now, we’re ready to play. We’re ready to get on schedule, but there are some larger issues at hand.”
During the press conference, he was also asked what he wanted FC Cincinnati fans to know and learn from current events and persistent racism.
“For me, being a Black man in America, a lot of these issues aren’t new,” Gyau said. “As we get deeper and deeper into this, more and more people are becoming more aware of it and being compassionate.
“As much light and as much awareness as we can bring to this situation, I would like to do so. Everybody in the organization has been in full support of what’s been going on. I’ve spoken to multiple people and we’re all on the same page.”