Several United States national team players have already spoken out about Donald Trump’s executive order denying entry to anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries, along with an outright ban on all Syrian refugees, at least for the next four months. The immediate effect of the EO has been to tear families apart while denying relief to people fleeing from war.
The order has already been questioned by many in the sports world, including MNT captain Michael Bradley, who said he was “sad and embarrassed” by the order and called Trump’s campaign language “xenophobic, misogynist, and narcissistic rhetoric.”
Women’s national team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn has joined Bradley in denouncing Trump’s EO. She gave the following statement to SSFC by email:
Soccer, more often than not, helps to unite the world, what this Muslim ban is doing is dividing it. Separating “Us” and “Them” to another degree, adding more division to a country that already struggles with race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. When I represent my country on the field I do so with heartfelt gratitude to the people who fight for and defend our fundamental freedoms—to believe in whatever I want, to love whoever I want, and to be a valued member of society while doing so. That’s the America I play for. I play for the America that embraces refugees from war-torn nations, for the America that welcomes all people who want the chance to experience the American Dream, for the America that appreciates the contributions from all the people it shelters. This Muslim ban is un-American—a betrayal of the values that make this country great. We can, we must be, we are better than this.
For the “stick to sports” crowd, statements like these matter tremendously to those in America who are currently feeling as though they are unwelcome or that they are in actual danger as anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic threats are on the rise and a rumored anti-LGBT executive order on the way. American soccer fans who see that their team captains will stand up for them as human beings know that they can continue to embrace the sport that they love without worrying if that sport hates them in return. Sauerbrunn and Bradley also provide an example to the rest of the soccer community that all fans are welcome regardless of race, religion, or national origin - an example that can hopefully ripple outwards into the more general cultural consciousness.