Players, commissioner speak about meaningful change

Nick Hagglund and Spencer Richey spoke with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss MLS returning and the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement being ratified. But while they spoke about the major achievement that allowed them to return to work, they said they were ready to put the CBA aside to talk about something more important: current events.

They saw an important task at hand in helping bring change to systemic racism and ensure equal rights for all, especially Black Americans. As we’ve seen protests across the country and people use their platforms to speak out, FC Cincinnati players are doing the same.

“It’s a subject that needs to be brought up and we’ve had conversations with teammates and I’ve had a lot of great conversations with family members and people around me,” Hagglund said. “I’ve learned a lot in these past couple days.

“It’s just incredibly important right now for this country to stand out and stand for something. It’s been cool to see the solidarity in it ... This is such a bigger issue. The history of this country has had racism through it and it’s time to stand up and the people are doing that.”

Richey added similar comments, saying that preventable deaths led us to this point.

“It’s such a shame that it takes severe events, brutal deaths being caught on camera, these circumstances, for the outrage and the outcry for justice,” the goalkeeper said. “The positive side of it is that it’s brought it to the surface once again. It’s a conversation that we most certainly need to have now, and for a lot of people it’s an uncomfortable conversation.

“Us as a team, FCC as a club and I think MLS as a league, have already done a pretty impressive job of speaking out and making their stance and standing with the African American community. Hopefully this is not something that’s just three, four days, but something that lasts a long time and makes a real difference. It’ll be fun now with the (MLSPA) stuff done that we can use our voice for more important issues.”

Photo take by Kevin Kuo - USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the day, MLS Commissioner Don Garber opened his press conference to announce the return of league play by highlighting the changes this country – and MLS – want to make to deliver meaningful change to “deep, deep systemic issues.”

“We as a league have always stood against racism,” Garber said. “We’ve stood for equality almost since the beginning of our league’s history. It’s not just the league, it’s our clubs and our players. We’ve tried to create programs that would address some of the things that are important to our core values.

“I have to say, it’s not enough to produce ads; it’s not enough just to have programs that talk about these issues. We as a league, and also I can speak as a leader of this sport … we need to go further, and we’re committed to doing that.”