Two days after the Colorado Rapids decided not to play a scheduled game at FC Dallas, head coach Robin Robin Fraser said he expects his players to take the field for a home match Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City.
“I don’t really have any reason to expect our players to sit out,” Fraser said during a video news conference Friday afternoon.
Five of the six MLS games were postponed Wednesday after players stood in solidarity with the Milwaukee Bucks. The NBA team sat out its playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest racial injustices in the U.S. following the shooting of Jacob Black by police in Kenosha, Wisc.
The cause is something that is near and dear to several Rapids, including Kei Kamara, who is a part of Black Players For Change, a group that is working on more inclusion across all of MLS.
“We made a decision together as players and staff to not play our game because there’s more happening in our country to distract our minds to soccer,” Kamara tweeted Wednesday night. “This is the first time I can agree to the saying ‘it’s just a game.’”
Most of the reaction around the league has been in support of the players, with Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen the lone loud dissenting voice. In an interview with KXRK, Hansen said he felt disrespected by the protests and that it had “taken the wind out of his sails” about owning the team — comments that were met with almost immediate condemnation by MLS.
Not long after, a report published by The Athletic alleged a history of racist comments from the Salt Lake owner. It included an alleged remark made by Hansen to Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who is Black, when he played for Dallas.
The MLS Players Association called for an immediate suspension of Hansen in the wake of the article, and MLS announced it would investigate the allegations. LAFC coach Bob Bradley said Hansen does not belong in soccer and USMNT striker Jozy Altidore said he was involved in a group that’s ready to buy the team.
“The immediate short run is to make sure that people are held accountable for acts of injustice or certainly perceived acts of injustice,” Fraser said about social movements in sports. “The endgame here really is that everyone is comfortable in society and feels equal to everyone else. The steps of how to get there are not exactly clear but that’s certainly where we’re ultimately assessed to go.”
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