United States Men's soccer star Alejandro Bedoya (R) grew up in Weston, Fla., about 30 minutes from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a mass shooting in 2018. Photo by Alejandro Bolivar/EPA
Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya scored a goal before running to a microphone to urge Congress to "end gun violence," during a game Sunday against D.C. United.
Bedoya's remark came in the third minute of the Union's 5-1 win against D.C Sunday -- the same day a gunman killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, and a day after another shooter killed 20 in El Paso, Texas.
The Union and United were scoreless before Bedoya ripped a shot off the left post for the first score of the contest. He sprinted toward the right sideline after the goal, pumping his fists and celebrating with teammates. Bedoya hugged some fans before grabbing a live microphone.
"Hey Congress, do something now," he shouted. "End gun violence. Let's go!"
Bedoya, 32, grew up in Weston, Fla., about 30 minutes from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the site of a shooting attack last year. He wore a shirt reading "MSD Strong" in the Union's season-opener weeks after the February 2018 attack.
Bedoya continued his comments in his postgame news conference after Sunday's win.
"I'm not going to sit idly and watch this stuff and not say something. Before I'm an athlete, before I'm a soccer player, I'm a human being first," Bedoya said.
"In this day and age in our society, I'm dropping my kids off at school and I'm looking around [as a] parent, thinking about exit strategy. When I'm at the mall, when I'm at a movie theater, when I'm at a concert, or a festival down the street, you know, big gatherings. Something's got to be done. It's gotten to the point where it's, we've almost become numb to it. That's a big problem."
Bedoya said he didn't plan the celebration but one of his friends from South Florida called on him to "use his platform" to speak on gun violence. He also tweeted about the shootings before the game.
"Seeing more thoughts and prayers bull [expletive]," Bedoya wrote. "Words without actions are just worthless. America, it seems, is becoming a dystopian society. Do something! Enough!"
MLS Players Association executive director Bob Foose said he supports Bedoya's "exercise of free speech."
"On this tragic weekend, on behalf of all MLS players I want to express my full support for Alejandro Bedoya's exercise of free speech," Foose said in a statement. "To paraphrase his post-game comments, before our members are soccer players, they are people."
Bedoya called for universal background checks and increased prices for ammunition in the wake of the shootings.
"I had people I grew up with that were affected by [the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting], that lost somebody actually in there," Bedoya said. "So yeah, that one hit really close to home. Even in Philly, I'm dropping my kids off and I get a message that the school is on lockdown because a shooting happened around the corner."