MLS's Garber supports players' freedom of expression

In a league-wide memo, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber supported the rights of players to express themselves and protest.

"The march of players, officials and children into our stadiums and singing of the anthem has been a pre-match tradition since our first game in 1996. The national anthem provides our clubs and fans an important and time-honored opportunity to salute our country and stand up for its principles – whether in the United States or in Canada.

"At the same time, freedom of speech -- and the right to peaceful protest -- are the hallmarks of both countries. Though we encourage our players to stand during the national anthem, we respect and support their right to express their personal beliefs."

The comments are the first on behalf of the league following comments by President Donald Trump about NFL players on Friday night, labeling a player who knelt for the playing of the national anthem a "son of a bitch," and suggesting his owner should fire him. MLS has no policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem.

By contrast, U.S. Soccer adopted Policy 604-1 in February, requiring that all federation representatives stand during the playing of the national anthem:

"All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented."

The policy was approved by the board of directors in the aftermath of Megan Rapinoe's decision to kneel before the U.S . friendly against Thailand last fall. Rapinoe later said she would respect the new policy.

Rapinoe and players on Seattle and FC Kansas City skipped the national anthem before their NWSL game on Sunday.

41 comments about "MLS's Garber supports players' freedom of expression".
  1. TOM SHORE, September 27, 2017 at 10:54 a.m.

    The number one reason why I'll stop supporting the NWSL. I'll leave it at that.

  2. Rusty Welch, September 27, 2017 at 11:06 a.m.

    Good luck with that Donnie. If you think it's a good idea to allow your employees disrespect the flag and country on national t.v. and in front of fans, you will be allowing them to also irreparably harm the league. Great decision.
    For all the confused folks out there - there is no 'freedom of speech' to say/do whatever you want in the employer/employee relationship. I cannot go into my job and burn a flag outside the front door. They will fire me, and rightfully so. I can do that on my own time (but having fought under that flag and understanding what it stands for, I would NEVER do that) - just not at work.

  3. T L replied, September 27, 2017 at 11:43 a.m.

    What does it stand for Rusty? And what did you fight for exactly?

  4. Rusty Welch, September 27, 2017 at 12:29 p.m.

    TL, here's a primer for what you missed out of in school or at home apparently. It stands not just as a symbol of our country, but the ideals laid out in our founding (liberty, equality, freedom). It stands for the only country on the face of this earth that was founded on an idea - that our rights are not 'given' to us by government, but inalienable from our persons. If you think that the ideals laid out in our founding documents are hypocritical, I feel bad for you (as said in another post of yours). Do you live up to every one of your ideals? Good job, Jesus #2. We strive to reach those ideals - fall short, and continue to strive. You don't condemn what is still the "home of the brave, land of the free" in it's entirety because you experience problems - we're all human, and it's a process. It is wildly disrespectful and slightly ignorant to condemn the whole because we're not perfect in an imperfect world - and that does NOTHING to further the conversation in making things better, it just pisses people off.
    I enlisted as soon as I was able to after our country was attacked on 9/11 - because I was able-bodied and willing to defend our country against those who would attack us and kill innocents. That's what I fought for.
    Are you fighting for something, or just working on tearing things down?

  5. John DiFiore replied, September 28, 2017 at 12:33 a.m.

    Amen Rusty! Well said, and Thank you! I also think that half of these people don't know why they are even protesting and what they are upset about. And I mean factually and statistically. The TRUE cases of oppression, although there, are few and far between. Certainly not enough to protest in this fashion. These athletes should hop on their jets and sit in a court room during an officers hearing on whether his actions are justifiable or not, and protest then and there. Oh yeah, no one would know..

  6. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 9:26 a.m.

    Wow so many ignorant comments here. I guess I'll address them to educate you. Those ideals that you speak of are not being protected. Instead they are being denied by the very people that should be protecting them domestically. If you dont see all the police britality committed on video in way way too many cases and coveruos within entire police departments all the way up to Mayor you are the worst kind of racist. The hipocritical one. My ideals are humane and go far beyond a flag or a country. Why dont you ask what exactly they are condemning instead of making such irresponsible accusations? My guess is that they are condemning the fact that it isnt the home of the free for black and Native american people that undeniably live through systematic oppression. Cant be seen land of thr freewith so many cowards wearing the badge in this country. At some point those words have to be backed up by actions to be 100% true. The gact that its still far from true is what merits these types of protests. This didnt just happen yesterday. Its been goong on for 100s of years and seem to be getting back to where we were just 40-50 years ago. It is highly naive and hipocritical for you to state they are condemning the whole. They are condemning the fact that our elected officials are doing little to reverse these atrocities and in Trumps case even sympathizing with racists and nazis. Of course it does something. We are having this conversation arent we? It has proven to be thr best kind of protest because it forces hipocrits to speak up as well. That gives us all a clear picture of how many hipocrits are out there in addition to the honest racists we see also protesting. 9/11 was an inside job and for you to not be able to see this yet saids everything about you. I fight every day to impprve the lives of many and thats through opening their eyes to the truth of reality. They must know who their friends and enemies truly are.

  7. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 9:28 a.m.

    John, do you know why this bothers you exactly? And what exactly is enough to start protesting? By few cases whats few to you exactly? Quite clear you are extremely ignorant person.

  8. Rusty Welch replied, September 29, 2017 at 11:55 a.m.

    T L it's been painful trying to read your whacked-out comments, as they are disjointed, rambling, incoherent at times and filled with some really awful spelling and grammar. For fairness sake, that was a run-on sentence.
    Glad that you're now outing yourself as a nutty conspiracy theorist though - for anyone that might find a point in your post to agree with, they have the excuse that they were blinded by your tin-foil hat.

    I don't hear anyone denying anybody's first amendment rights - just wildly disagreeing with the method of protest and calling on the NFL to not be so hypocritical (eventually maybe you'll spell that correctly).

  9. T L replied, September 29, 2017 at 5:55 p.m.

    No need to use spell check if you understood my points which you did. Great grammar doesnt mean you have common sense or even slightly smart but good try. Whats worse? My grammar or you responding to me?

  10. William Jahn, September 27, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.

    Express yourself all you want. Just don’t attack America while at work. You are a complicit pawn of the American hating left if you tolerate demonstrations against the flag or anthem.

  11. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 8:45 a.m.

    Attack America? Dont cops attack america while at work?

  12. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 28, 2017 at 9:47 a.m.

    I am not as upset by these protests as most but do cops "attack America" at work? No. No they don't.

  13. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 12:02 p.m.

    Sarcasm. Neither do these protests attack anyone. It was an example.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, September 28, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.

    The US constitution requires that we tolerate protests that are "disrespectful" (in your opinion) of our anthem, flag, and government officials. The people including the protesters are the country, not the flag, not the anthem and not just government officials. I suspect you don't see your attitude as disrespectful of other people's constitutional right to speak. I particularly don't care for the attitude that Republicans are the only patriots. Patriots come in many colors and all walks of life.

  15. John Hofmann, September 27, 2017 at 3:08 p.m.

    I wish people would stop, apparently, reacting w/o thinking. I have been impressed by combat veterans who have publicly indicated that they do not necessarily agree with people quietly protesting during the national anthem, but that they had fought and risked their lives do preserve our freedoms in this country, including the right to protest. No where that I am aware of does it indicate that we have the right to protest, but may not protest (quietly and with dignity I might add) during the national anthem. In recent years, perhaps fueled by the fact that I served for three years in the military, I have been offended by the increasingly "entertainment-oriented" anthem presentations by significant entertainers, no doubt fueled simply by big dollars from event sponsors, and by the often poor taste responses by fans present at these events, yelling in appreciation for successful high notes sung, elaborate trills and other vocal shenanigans, etc. The national anthem appears to be more and more simply an extension of the high-priced entertainment at many sporting events, and yet no one seems to be offended by that (other than me). The very ideals being cited above, as reasons for solemn
    respectful anthem participation, could be contested I'm sure by protesters, who are calling attention to what they feel has been a continuing lack of equal protection, and application of those ideals, across the board in this country - that they have been applied selectively for nearly our entire history. And, of course, the people most likely to disagree with that are of course the people who have not, ever, worried about any of their "god-given" rights bestowed by form of government.

  16. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 9:31 a.m.

    Exactly. The nfl pays and gets paid for playing the anthem and sponsored patriotism. When will people learn. True vets fought for the right to protest amongst other things. They didnt fight for just the people they agree with on political views. These vets understand the danger of incriminating people for their points of view which in this case are born out of defense for human rights and justice, wether you agree with methods or not.

  17. Nick Daverese, September 27, 2017 at 5:05 p.m.

    Let them to a stand and I will never watch an mls game ever again. I can do that I rather watch German football.i have that freedom. Channel 7, Disney and Espn are losing money big time they want millions more for cablevision or they will leave them Next month I told them let them go if their still on next month I will take my business some where else. Had them since 1992 I pay about 270 a month for service. I am not the only one who called them to tell them that.

  18. Larry Beck, September 27, 2017 at 6:06 p.m.

    They have the right to their protest and I have the right to not agree with it! Don't mess with the Flag and the National Anthem! It is even worse if done when competing on foreign soil.

  19. T L, September 28, 2017 at 8:56 a.m.

    I will start watching mls now. They just gained a fan

  20. Mike Jacome replied, September 28, 2017 at 4:17 p.m.

    Could it be that those so offended by these protests really could give a crap about what they are actually protesting about and therefore now ita inconvenient.

    I am a mixed race hispanic american and although we can do better with police training and stuff. I just do not see by analyzing the statistics (thing that many supporting the protests insistently ignore) that we have a particular epidemic of white police officers attacking the black community...More so, statistics indicate that white officers are less likely to shoot a black suspect than black officers, obviously Liberals already said that it doesn't matter if the officer is black, it is still an employee of a racist system. Bottom line, yes we can do more for social equality, but I ask you how better are we as society than in the 50s or 60s...Let me answer that a whole great deal.

  21. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 5:38 p.m.

    So as long as its better than in the 50/60s we are ok? Whats the stabdard exacrly? Black people's worry isnt that it isnt "better" than 50-60 years ago. The problem they see and all should see is that many of these police murders go unpunished, and the ones that do get a slap in the wrist and covered up by entire police force which includes the "good cops". It is clear that a big part of entire law enforcement is extremely corrupt and racis at its very core. Do you need a bigger reason to protest? Ot should we wait u til we get back to where we were in the 50s? At least back then the racists were openly racist so you knew who you had to protect yourself from unlike today that they like to hide behind a stupid argument like this one.

  22. Mike Jacome replied, September 28, 2017 at 7:13 p.m.

    The 50s and 60 will never be back, Do you see people arresting and persecuting homosexuals again> No. My point is social injustice today is but a shadow of what it once was...the remaining of the road to perfection can be accomplished without the drama we are seeing by the MSM and the hypocrites democrats...Oh i forgot that the democrats want the drama because perpetuating fear is what warrant them votes from minorities, and I do not need to remind you that i belong to a minority.

  23. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 11:04 p.m.

    I am a minority as well and i agree that democrats are just as bad as republicans. They both work for the same lords. Whoever believes otherwise smokes crack or at least should to have an excuse for being so dumb. I see more racism today than I saw 20 years ago hands down. I also see dumber people in general. Just look at what we have for president for God's sake.

  24. Mike Jacome replied, September 29, 2017 at 3:16 a.m.

    If you see more racism today than 20 years ago, then the democratic party succeeded in deceiving you and yes you bought their crap... You think that Hillary would have been better than the president we have right now..oh boy, talking about, forgive me friend I did not pretend to offend you you have just been mugged by the MSM propaganda machine thinking that Hillary and the democrats were suppose to care about you. I didn't like Trump, but I knew I couldn't allow the Liberals to continue destroying the country I love that's why I painfully had to vote for Trump. Wake up and smell the words of the late Michael Jackson Obama, Hillary, Pelosi and al the democrats they "don't really care about us" They want to perpetuate victimhood among us to continue getting votes and we are so stupid that we believe their lies...sad, very sad.

  25. T L replied, September 29, 2017 at 8:48 a.m.

    Did you not read my post? Huh? It clearly states I am niether Democrat nor Republican. Thats the problem with you people. You dont know how to have an argument with people that are not of the opposing party. You are exactly what the current establishment wants and is counting on. You had to vote for Trump? You just made my point. Thankyou.

  26. Mike Jacome replied, September 29, 2017 at 6:06 p.m.

    Yes I read your post and made no sense...Do you want to continue to be a victim knock your self out...I will never vote democrat...I encourage you to do the same and yes I had to vote for Trump because the Liberal agenda is destroying us..Unless you don't consider yourself that case please get out of my country.

  27. T L replied, September 29, 2017 at 6:11 p.m.

    I am more American than you. At least my ancestors are from this America Continent. Doubt yours are but i will allow you to remain in this country to help you out. Again, i have never been democrat much less republican. You apparently cant conprehend this and dont know how to even engagae someone like me. You have been practicing your anti democrat rants too long to have a discussion with me. Cant write a post without bashing demcrats in your response to me even though this is 3rd time I say i am not democrat. Get er done!

  28. Bob Ashpole, September 28, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    Respect for our country is respect for the rule of law, the Constitution being the most important of our laws. The First American Principle: Our country is ruled by laws, not by a man or a group of men.
    "Yes, if I were king, I -- I would not allow people to go about burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment, which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged. And it is addressed, in particular, to speech critical of the government. I mean, that was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress."
    "I think Thomas Jefferson would have said the more speech, the better. That's what the First Amendment is all about. So long as the people know where the speech is coming from."
    -- Antonin Scalia. CNN Piers Morgan Tonight (July 18, 2012).

  29. T L replied, September 28, 2017 at 12:04 p.m.

    Could it be that those so offended by these protests really could give a crap about what they are actually protesting about and therefore now ita inconvenient.

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, September 28, 2017 at 4:41 p.m.

    I judge the motivation of the people "offended" by these protests by their lack of concern about the thousands of people disrespecting the anthem and flag at the same events (talking, texting, drinking, eating, etc.). The only explanation is that they are upset about the politic statement of the protesters, and not really upset about any lack of respect to the flag--that is just a handy excuse to call the protesters unpatriotic.

  31. K Michael, September 29, 2017 at 10:49 a.m.

    OK, you racist, ignorant buffoon. Let's pause for a second and review a few things:
    1. The entire BLM racist, bought -and-paid - for protest movement is based on a big fat lie - that a Ferguson, MO police officer opened fire on an innocent cherubic black guy just randomly strolling down the street one fine afternoon. The fact is the officer was attacked, battered and and had to shoot the violent, felonious goon to defend himself. Moral of the story - don't mug a convenience store clerk, jaywalk down the middle of the street and definitely don't attack an armed police officer.
    2. IF Black Lives Matter, then you may wish to look in the mirror and ask "why do so many blacks die at the hands of fellow blacks? Why do so many blacks think having illegitimate kids out of wedlock helps the black community? Why do so many blacks "graduate" high school with barely an eighth-grade education level? Why do blacks continue the insane voting patterns of lockstep devotion to the very political party that has aided and abetted the very circumstances that the black community finds themselves in today? Why are over 89% (according to 2010 FBI crime statistics) of interracial violent crime committed by blacks on other ethnic groups? Why are over 97% of interracial rapes black-on-white?
    3. If the USA is such an awful place in your uninformed opinion, why do we have the largest amount of immigrants (legal and illegal) in the world? Why do countries that have political systems in line with your leftist world view build walls to keep their citizens in?

    Provide straightforward, documented, logical answers to the above...or shut the h@*l up and crawl back to the dark hole from whence you came...and while you're down there, review basic grammar and spelling before posting again.

  32. T L replied, September 29, 2017 at 3:39 p.m.

    Whats racist about what i commented you idiot? Now lets take what you just ignorantly commented. 1. bLM paid for? Ok maybe you are right. So? That means that cops dont systematically terrorize black people? Videos showing this clearly are fake? So many of them? Shoidl this even happen once? 2. Why do so many blacks die by the hand of other blacks? So BLM dont matter because of this? So MLK movement was also a mistake and worthless for same reasons? If all lives matter then why is BLM such a nuscense to you idiots? So the black people murdered by police is justified because of all your points you just made? Is that what your ignorant hillbilly ass is saying? 3. Why so many immigrants? Simple. Becasue our economy needs them and is main reason for its growth and sustainability. My grammar got you to respond a long ass rant based on racism and bigotry. Jajaja. I win again

  33. K Michael, September 29, 2017 at 11:17 a.m.

    Its fairly cut and dry, yeah? We have a tradition of standing for the flag at sporting events as a sign of reverence and loyalty to our country. By milling about, texting, or talking, etc during the song, its certainly rude, but to deliberately not stand is unpatriotic, sorry. There is no crime in that and that is certainly your First Amendment right; it is also the right of everyone else to despise you and shun you for doing so. Personally, it shows a lack of maturity; it seems a very juvenile, emotional reaction based on misinformation. Basically, one is saying to themselves "because of the very,very rare non-systemic occurrence of true race-based police brutality (not the make-believe stuff of liberal dreams , ie Tawawna Brawley, Trevon Martin, Ferguson, etal) I condemn the United States of America and all those who served her interests in Foreign Wars."
    Kind of like having one bad apple in the bag and condemning the whole apple growing industry. Grow up, already!

  34. Bob Ashpole replied, September 29, 2017 at 3:29 p.m.

    I resent your condescending remarks. I am a former state and federal prosecutor and have a very good grasp of exactly how law enforcement operates. My grandfather, father, uncles, brother, son and myself all served. Don't presume to lecture me about service and patriotism.

  35. T L replied, September 29, 2017 at 3:40 p.m.

    K, jajaja. Your ignorance is ammusing.

  36. K Michael, September 29, 2017 at 11:22 a.m.

    And note to MLS:
    You have just now achieved a foundation of acceptance in the broad sports community; you are just now one of the "big five" sports. Your dominant big weekend rival has totally pooped the bed and offended more than half of their fan base. for goodness sake, tell the idiot lefty players who wish to protest to do so on their own time. I would reckon that a similar protest would only offend about a third of the fanbase (less so in Portland or Seattle perhaps), but MLS is in no position to lose fans now.

  37. T L replied, September 29, 2017 at 3:42 p.m.

    Mls you will be just fine because from pissing off the idiots you just gained the best fans in the world. Thx once again.

  38. Scott Johnson, September 29, 2017 at 3:16 p.m.

    Why is it that police brutality is apparently a non-issue for some people, but professional athletes protesting during the anthem is apparently an outrage?

  39. Rusty Welch replied, September 29, 2017 at 3:27 p.m.

    Scott - has anybody said police brutality is a non-issue? If the players want to talk about it, they're free to open that discussion. I know many t.v. and radio personalities have invited them to do just that. Disrespecting the flag and country is probably the dumbest way to try and get that message across though - the message gets drowned out when they do that, and is more divisive than anything else. MLK Jr. protested injustice with respect and dignity - this go-round, not so much.

  40. Scott Johnson replied, September 29, 2017 at 4:16 p.m.

    Problem is, when they go talk about it in political forums, nobody pays attention. The sort of protest that is effective at social change, are the sorts of protest that make people feel uncomfortable. But to answer your question--one commenter above essentially asserts it IS a non-issue, that this whole thing is an overblown reaction to one alleged "thug" getting shot by a cop in St. Louis, and essentially asserting that the claim that cops mistreat blacks is a lie. I've seen similar reactions all over the Internet. Trump is trying to distract y'all from his failed and corrupt presidency, and hopes that you'll decide when you step into the voting booth, that athletes "disrespecting the flag" is a bigger and more important issue than anything else. Don't fall for it.

  41. T L, September 29, 2017 at 6:07 p.m.

    Racism is so American that when you protest racism the average American strongly believes you are protesting America.

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