MLS players express opposition to Trump travel ban

A day after U.S. men's national team captain Michael Bradley came out in opposition to President Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan entering the United States for 90 days, the MLS Players Union issued a statement Monday from executive director Bob Foose in support of Bradley:

"We are deeply concerned, both specifically for our players who may be impacted, and more broadly for all people who will suffer as a result of the travel ban implemented on Friday. Details on the practical impact of the ban are still emerging, and we are still sorting through the potential impact on our players and their families. We are extremely disappointed by the ban and feel strongly that it runs counter to the values of inclusiveness that define us as a nation. We are very proud of the constructive and measured manner in which Michael Bradley expressed his feelings on the ban. It is our deepest hope that this type of strong and steady leadership will help to guide us through these difficult times."

MLS has two players that represent Iran and Iraq internationally -- Toronto FC's Steven Beitashour and Columbus Crew midfielder Justin Meram, respectively -- though both are American-born and exempt from the order.

Other national team players based in MLS came out against the travel ban: Alejandro Bedoya, the son of Colombian parents, and Sacha Kljestan, whose father fled Yugoslavia, told Four Four Twothey agreed with Bradley.

“Even today," Kljestan said after the USA's 0-0 tie with Serbia, "I play against Serbia, the country of my father, who came to the U.S. illegally himself and built himself a life here. America is the land of opportunity, and I don't think we're the type of country that should shut our borders to anybody. I think we should welcome everybody here to our soil to live the American dream.”

Several MLS players -- Portland's Darlington Nagbe and New England's Kei Kamara-- were refugees from war-torn West Africa. New refugees are banned from entering the country for 120 days.

Nagbe was born in Liberia, where his father was a soccer star. Tamara joined his mother in California from Sierra Leone.



On Sunday at the USA-Serbia game in San Diego, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati would not comment directly on the travel ban or how international reaction to Trump's policy might impact the USA's plans to bid for the 2026 World Cup, but on Monday he tweeted a picture from his annual Thanksgiving dinner he hosts for students at Columbia University, where he teaches economics.

51 comments about "MLS players express opposition to Trump travel ban".
  1. Eve Montgomery, January 31, 2017 at 7:22 a.m.

    Well done.

  2. Terry Lynch, January 31, 2017 at 7:29 a.m.

    Play soccer, guys, don't try politics. Bradley calling this a Muslim ban just reveals the level of mis-information and ignorance.

  3. Brian Kraft replied, January 31, 2017 at 10:24 a.m.

    I wouldn't assume any measure of mis-information on anyone's part here. The White House says this is not a ban on Muslims. Surely you can see how it is otherwise interpreted. And in any case such restrictions are troublesome at best for such an international game. If we continue down this road your directive to "play soccer" might start to look different. Play soccer . . . where? . . . with or against whom?

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 31, 2017 at 10:40 a.m.

    Oh I see, you're entitled to post your opinion wherever you want but soccer players aren't. Makes sense.

  5. Marc Francis replied, January 31, 2017 at 12:48 p.m.

    Well done Bradley, well done USMNT.

  6. Marc Francis replied, January 31, 2017 at 12:51 p.m.

    Apparently a ban on travel from a Muslim majority country which does not include Christians is not a Muslim ban???
    Come on people..
    I do agree that it has been blown out of proportion..

  7. Oswald Viva, January 31, 2017 at 8:06 a.m.

    How come you didn't complain when Obama did the same thing? Inform yourself before opening your uneducated mouth.

  8. Ric Fonseca replied, January 31, 2017 at 12:35 p.m.

    Your question defies any logic so I recommend that you review what Obama did, what he said, and how he did it.

  9. Andrew Yaletsko, January 31, 2017 at 8:21 a.m.

    Soccer players should just play soccer. Try getting that right first before you try taking politicians and policies you don't understand. Where was your vast knowledge on the subject when Obama was destroying this country. Do us all a favor keep your mouths shut and just play.

  10. Allan Lindh replied, January 31, 2017 at 5:02 p.m.

    A nation of the people, by the people, for the people. We all have an obligation to speak out against injustice, that's what makes us the country that we are -- and hope to continue being.

  11. stewart hayes, January 31, 2017 at 9:05 a.m.

    The MLS should re-consider their point of view. Healthy athletes are not the victims here. Lack of quality vetting helped cause the 14 dead and 22 injured in San Bernardino. Some of those injured one year after the attack lost their support by the City for surgeries and counseling. These people and their families are still suffering. They are the victims and pray to God nothing ever happens again on American soil like this to one of our loved ones.

  12. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 31, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    San Bernandino attack was committed by a US citizen born and raised in the US and his wife, who was born in Pakistan, which is not on Trump's list. So how would this executive order have stopped that attack? Similarly, Orlando was committed by a US citizen, born and raised here.

  13. Valerie Metzler, January 31, 2017 at 9:20 a.m.

    Thank you, USMNT, for speaking out!

  14. Goal Goal, January 31, 2017 at 9:57 a.m.

    Nothing is as frightening as ignorance in action someone other than me said sometime back. Boy is that personified here. Just proves people hear what they want to hear and thus react accordingly. Here you have the President of the United States taking steps to protect this country and you have at the other end of the spectrum Gulati talking about people at the table at Thanksgiving dinner as if he were the only person involved in these types of brotherly actions. I have no problem with anyone being at my dinner table if I am positive they aren't going to blow me and my family up. That is all that the President is trying to prevent. Play on Gulati. You should be an Ambassador instead of head of US Soccer because you are not doing a real good job at doing what you are doing.

  15. P R, January 31, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    The misinformation being peddled here by many people is staggering. I know Trump wants to claim he's doing something Obama did, but as with many of Trumps claims, it's simply not true.

    Trump initiated a blanket ban on people from multiple Muslim majority countries (a ban which does not apply to any Muslim majority countries where he has business interests - what an odd coincidence). This ban was based on his and his followers personal beliefs of who is dangerous, not based on anything close to specific intel related to the countries he selected. This is very different from what Obama did, when his administration “conducted a review in 2011 of the vetting procedures applied to citizens of a single country (Iraq) and then only to refugees and applicants for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), created by Congress to help Iraqis (and later Afghans) who supported the United States in those conflicts.” This review “came in response to specific threat information”, and this review “did not “ban visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” For one thing, refugees don’t travel on visas. More importantly, while the flow of Iraqi refugees slowed significantly during the Obama administration’s review, refugees continued to be admitted to the United States during that time, and there was not a single month in which no Iraqis arrived here”, aka, it was not a ban.

    And then there’s the fact that none of the terrorist attacks committed in this country were committed by people from any of the countries that were banned.

  16. stewart hayes replied, January 31, 2017 at 11:01 a.m.

    PR .... Please explain the law signed by the president in 2015 that restricted visa waivers for the same seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen as the current executive order. How was this law different than the current executive order? I am sure there are nuances I don't know.

  17. P R replied, January 31, 2017 at 12:05 p.m.

    Stewart, the differences are not a matter of “nuance”, the 2 are very different. First off, as you said, it’s a law, which is a very different thing than an executive order. Laws are made by Congress, and must go through a long process of getting through both houses before they ever get to the president’s desk, while an executive order comes from the president, and doesn’t have to go through congress. And a not insignificant point related to that, Congress was not controlled by the president’s party at that time either. Next, you yourself say the law was about “restrictions”, something that very different from a blanket ban. For specifics, as you could find in a very simple google search, the law “unlike Trump's much more broad order, only affected people eligible for the visa waiver program, rather than suspend all citizens' travel from one of those seven countries.” So the law, created by Congress in 2015, affected the few people who applied for one certain kind of visa, while the executive order affected everybody from these countries. And the effect on those few people was not banning them from coming to the US for a period of time. In fact, the effect was: “citizens who had been eligible for the waiver program and had visited one of those seven countries in the time period were forced to apply for a visa.” What this means is, before this law was put in, some people could have qualified to waive going through the process of getting a visa, but after the law went into effect, the few people who might have qualified for the waiver then had to go through the normal visa process that everybody else had to go through all along. If you can’t see the difference between a law and an executive order, or think the differences between the 2 things in question are just minor matters of “nuance”, I can’t help you.

  18. stewart hayes replied, January 31, 2017 at 1:24 p.m.

    Thanks for that. No reason to speak to me in a demeaning way. Of course I know there is a difference between a law and and executive order. It appears as though the administration and congress felt that there was a need to be sure citizens traveling to those countries had valid reasons for doing so and were not traveling to engage in terror training or something related. The executive order in question then is much more, a complete ban; but it is temporary and involves these same countries previously identified as problem countries.

  19. P R replied, January 31, 2017 at 3:23 p.m.

    Stewart, sorry, but you asked me to find “nuance” in the difference between a “law” “restricting” visa waivers, and an “executive order” “banning” all citizens of a foreign country from coming to the U.S. – I didn’t know how else to answer when the words used in the question itself seemed to imply some obvious, large differences. As for your conclusion about the law, you are reading things into the law that simply weren’t implied. It is very obvious that citizens traveling from, or through, those countries needed to be vetted, to make sure they wouldn’t engage in terrorism. So the implication of the 2015 law was, we should make sure we don’t let people come here without being vetted, as would have happened if people were able to waive the visa application process. The implication of this order is that, even though nobody from any of these countries have ever committed terrorist acts here, all people from the named countries are too much of a risk to have them go through the vetting process that is seen as adequate to screen people coming from countries from which originated people who have committed terrorist acts. So a) it doesn’t make sense, and b) since no context was given for why these countries were singled out, people from those countries will perceive it as being based on the major religions practiced in those countries. For me, the biggest problem is, knowing that if we want to effectively fight the known terrorists in those countries, we need cooperation of the governments and the good people of those countries, but the ham handed, ill thought out way that these orders were implemented has only hurt our ability to work with those parties in fighting the ones who really are a problem.

  20. don Lamb replied, January 31, 2017 at 9:32 p.m.

    PR - Your last point is the kicker. We need good faith from Muslim people and Muslim leaders in order to combat Muslim terrorists.

  21. Bob Ashpole replied, February 2, 2017 at 3:28 a.m.

    The simple way to state things is that ending a waiver of the visa requirement means that one needs a visa to enter. Preventing people with properly issued visas and green cards from entering is something entirely different.

  22. Kent James replied, February 4, 2017 at 1:10 a.m.

    Well put, PR.

  23. Kenneth Gough, January 31, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.

    First Amendment considerations aside, the soccer world should confine its comments to soccer. Immigration is outside its area of expertise, and the statements made by Brady and others demonstrate that. Whether the travel restrictions from certain countries (which are definitely not a Muslim ban, being generally applicable) are a good idea or not, they are based on legitimate, non-trivial concerns. Let's see how it shakes out; if it makes us safer, the critics will (or should) be embarrassed by their foolish knee-jerk reaction. If not, Trump will have damaged himself and will pay the political price. Whatever the case, on these pages, let's discuss soccer, not politics.

  24. P R replied, January 31, 2017 at 10:24 a.m.

    So by this logic, soccer players should confine their comments to soccer, accountants should only talk about accounting, IT people should only talk about IT, entertainers should only talk about entertainment, etc. And when the government makes any decision, citizens who aren't in government shouldn't talk about their views related to this decision, they should just sit quietly and wait to see the results. The people should wait, because if it turns out that a president made a bad decision, it won't negatively affect the country, it will only negatively affect the president himself, the only one to pay a price will be the president, the only price to pay will be a political one. Yeah, that's some great logic you got there.

  25. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 31, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    Immigration is not within Trump's area of expertise either but it doesn't stop him.

  26. Kenneth Gough replied, February 1, 2017 at 9:22 a.m.

    Immigration may be outside of Trump's area of expertise, but we may safely assume that he has the advice of people who know it very well - advice which is not available to laymen like you and I and the good folks in the soccer world. We may disagree with his decision, but we do so at the risk of looking foolish if it turns out he's right. It's one thing to comment in general ways on public policy, quite another to comment on a specific action. For what it's worth, I'm all for freedom of movement, but only insofar as it's not in conflict with public safety. Trump is hardly alone in his concerns that current policy and procedure are inadequate. It's hardly unreasonable to step back and study the situation to see what, if anything, needs to be done differently. Muslims must keep in mind that it's not jihadists from the First Baptist Church who are trying to kill us. If they are outraged, the most effective action they could take is to put an end to the terrorism bred within their own religion.

  27. don Lamb replied, February 1, 2017 at 2:26 p.m.

    All due respect, Kenneth, but I don't think we can "safely" assume anything about Trump's presidency. And, I think he prides himself on that.

  28. Bob Ashpole replied, February 2, 2017 at 3:33 a.m.

    Kenneth, how can you safely assume that after the President fired an Acting Attorney General and given the protests of many career state department officials.

  29. Kenneth Gough replied, February 2, 2017 at 9:51 a.m.

    Don Lamb, point well taken on Trump. He's a loose cannon, but in this instance, his aim was right even if the process was botched. As for advice, he has assembled a top-notch team, as even his fiercest critics agree, and the word is he listens, even if sometimes reluctantly. Much of the bluster seems to be a deliberate tactic to disorient his opponents - and it's working, even at the expense of occasionally discombobulating his allies.

    Bob Ashpole, Trump properly fired a holdover from the Obama administration who flagrantly defied his executive order, based on her unsupported opinion (and nothing more) that it was unconstitutional. She asked for it, and she got it. You would have done the same.

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2017 at 6:16 a.m.

    Ken, the problem was that the order had provisions that most second year law students would recognize as unconstitutional. Attorneys including federal attorneys cannot tell a judge something during a lawsuit that they know is false. While the opinion of the Acting Attorney General might carry no weight with you or the President because she was originally appointed by the previous administration, the courts don't work that way. You are mistaken to presume what I have done or would have done.

  31. Kent James replied, February 4, 2017 at 1:19 a.m.

    Since no one who has successfully committed an act of terrorism in the US in the last 15 years has come from the countries Trump banned, how will critics know the ban is keeping us safe, since we seem to be pretty safe without the ban?

  32. Eric Dibella, January 31, 2017 at 12:22 p.m.

    Facebook rules...

  33. Ric Fonseca, January 31, 2017 at 1:04 p.m.

    Hope springs eternal!!! Also, please consider that we still have something called "separation of powers," with the three branches of government: Executive, Judicial, Legislative. I wonder of trump knows this? Oh..... wait, he acting on "alternative facts...!"

  34. Goal Goal, January 31, 2017 at 2:43 p.m.

    Ric, you didn't have that in the last administration because of all the executive orders. Lets be real.

  35. Mark Calcat, January 31, 2017 at 6:13 p.m.

    Gulati and the players should be looking to improve their performance. Of course they are entitled to their opinions (unless they are the best goalkeeper in the world). I am not interested in them. I do not come to SA to find a forum for idiot refugees from the Huffington Post. Where was all this outrage at world's game when the UAE refused to allow an Israeli defender to attend their camp in their country. Algeria refused to host a friendly against Ghana because of their Jewish coach. Those were far more significant issues than the slow processing of 109 foreign visitors. FIFA was silent. US players were silent. If the US is so concerned they should cancel all matches including the UAE or Algeria and FIFA should sanction them. Gulati continues to be nearly useless for advancing soccer in America.

  36. Wooden Ships replied, February 1, 2017 at 7:56 a.m.

    Good point Mark, we are selective with our outrage.

  37. Bob Ashpole replied, February 2, 2017 at 3:40 a.m.

    You put me in the uncomfortable position of defending Mr. Gulati. There has been a lot of progress. USSF is in the black, financially. There are (essentially) domestic professional soccer leagues for both genders. MLS has invested in youth development. There are DAs for both genders. While one can question the efficiency of programs, USSF is focused on improving both player development and coach development.

  38. Mark Calcat, January 31, 2017 at 6:18 p.m.

    Jenn Russ If you have 10 armed bad guys coming at you with big guns and only 3 will negotiate, should you not shoot the other 7. By your demented logic, you would need to shoot them all. Your IQ does not seem to creep North of room temperature.

  39. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2017 at 6:49 a.m.

    Bad example. Negotiation with guns is not negotiation. Not literally or metaphorically.

  40. cisco martinez, January 31, 2017 at 6:25 p.m.

    President trump is a disgrace to mankind and should resign for being a racist, fascist, xenophobe, anti women, anti immigrant, and his views are completely contrary to our bill of rights and our constitution. Trump the new Hitler of our time has the right to spew hate speech and we have the right to tell him he's wrong and Unamerican. US soccer community would not be where we are without immigrants and the second generation that made our team what it is, Donovan, Canadian parent, Bedoya, Colombian parents, Klestjan Serbia, etc

  41. Wooden Ships replied, February 1, 2017 at 8:03 a.m.

    Cisco, I enjoy your soccer observations, but taking absolutist positions is high risk. Quite often leading to lost credibility. Hope you're not in the anarchist realm. Who do you like in midfield Friday?

  42. To Jo, February 1, 2017 at 10:28 a.m.

    Just what we need to advance soccer in the USA. Have the USMNT team captain speak hyperbolically on a highly political and divisive issue. Smart. If you want to further cement the idea that soccer is a sport of liberals and tofu eaters (it's not), keep it up. There's a reason the NFL leaders have not publicly protested and don't host gay day events. Focus on the sport, not the politics or you will forever be a third tier sport in the USA.

  43. Paula Barrett, February 1, 2017 at 5:42 p.m.

    The MLS players have every right to comment and voice their opinions, especially when it affects some of their families, friends and teammates. I applaud them. Soccer teams are microcosms of the melting pot which is the U.S.A.

  44. Ginger Peeler, February 1, 2017 at 10:31 p.m.

    Point. Every one of our MNT players is a United States citizen with certain inalienable rights as spelled out in our constitution. So, Free Speech...Michael Bradley has every right to express his opinion, just as , Freedom of the Press...any news media can cover and report on what he said. I was born during World War II. I attended segregated schools when my dad was stationed in Texas and Alabama. I had white classmates who swore, and really believed, that black people were less than human. When I left the Deep South 15 years ago, there were still adherents to that belief. After Pearl Harbor, we incarcerated American-born Japanese Americans because a lot of us were convinced they would turn on us. We justified our inhumane actions, claiming it was the only way to keep our nation safe. I was in middle and high school during the McCarthy era when so many of us were willing, no EAGER, to believe there was "a commie" behind every tree. As a country and as a people, we have proven to be highly susceptible to fearmongering. Look, I lived on Strategic Air Command bases during the Cold War when those of us on base KNEW that the SAC bases would be among the primary targets if a nuclear war broke out and there would be no way to evacuate in time to be clear of the effects of a nuclear weapon dropped on one of the bases. That was FACT. I am not belittling 9/11. But I am trying to point out that this blanket banning entry of these people is overkill. None of those countries has produced a terrorist in the USA. There ARE 4 or 5 countries (including Saudi Arabia) whose citizens HAVE attacked the USA. Ironically, they all have dealings with Trump businesses. Why aren't they on the list? As citizens of the United States it is our duty to try to be well informed and get the whole story. Watch Fox AND CNN. If you only listen to one of them, you are not getting the whole story. I'm not sure why Trump insists on his revisionist history...he says or tweets something and then claims he never said it...even when anyone can pull up the video or tweets that show him doing/saying it. The great thing about the United States is that we can all openly express our opinions. Instead of complaining about it, we should all be celebrating it, even if we have a different opinion.

  45. Bob Ashpole replied, February 2, 2017 at 3:48 a.m.

    Perhaps a minor point, but the inalienable rights are granted to all people by the creator, not the US Constitution, and are spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. That is the political and legal basis for our country. The Constitution is the basis for our current form of government, not the nation itself.

  46. Chester Grant, February 2, 2017 at 8:21 a.m.

    No thinking person would have any interest in what MLS players say about anything other than soccer.
    Immigration is NOT the issue it is the totally un-American nature of Islam: a medieval and barbaric legal framework incompatible with modern values and basic human rights.

  47. Goal Goal, February 2, 2017 at 3:04 p.m.

    Main mission is to protect this country and its citizens. Actions by the previous administration proved otherwise. I appreciate the effort being made by our President. Our elected President. I don't know about everyone else but I have a bit of a problem with someone representing this country as the member of a national team using his/her presence as a known athlete to question the President. If you feel you have that much clout or your feelings are that important give him a call and discuss it privately.

  48. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2017 at 6:53 a.m.

    Really Fanfor? You don't want citizens even questioning our President's policies, much less opposing them?

  49. don Lamb replied, February 3, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    Fan - If that is the main issue, then why repeal the law that calls for stricter background checks on those buying guns. Should mentally unstable people be allowed to buy guns? That is not safe for the rest of society.

  50. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2017 at 6:05 p.m.

    Don that enters a thicket. Every mental health professional that has ever been sued for failure to warn victims of a dangerous patient has swamped the court with expert testimony as to how future violent conduct cannot be predicted except by past violent acts. While it may be self-serving, that is what the majority of experts in the field believe. So the only reliable indicator is the individual's criminal record.

  51. Kent James, February 4, 2017 at 1:23 a.m.

    Soccer players have as much a right to discuss politics as anyone else, and on this subject, since soccer is such an international game, it is not surprising that they spoke out. All citizens should be encouraged to express their thoughts on the issues of the day, that's what makes a democracy vibrant.

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