McKennie: I have to stand up for what I believe in

George Floyd tributes in soccer
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USMNT and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie has said he will stand firm and accept any punishment for wearing an armband in support of George Floyd.

During Schalke’s 1-0 defeat at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday, McKennie wore an armband saying ‘Justice for George’ and along with several other Bundesliga players, he will now be investigated by the German Football Association as there are rules against players wearing political messages on shirts or other garments. FIFA have called for “common sense” to take place when it comes to each association ruling on regulations against players revealing political, religious or personal slogans during a game.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN last week there have been widespread protests across the USA. A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin was arrested last Friday and charged with murder, authorities confirmed.

Over the weekend Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi revealed messages of support on their jerseys, while McKennie wore his armband saying ‘Justice for George’ and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram took a knee after he scored in the Bundesliga.

Clubs and players across Europe have since issued their support to the movement. As for the German FA, they said they are looking into potential breaches around rules on political, religious or personal slogans.

Speaking to Forbes in an interview, McKennie said that as an American international player he simply had to speak out.

“I was like, ‘I’m not taking it off’. There’s a rule in the league that you can’t make political statements. But I mean, if you really, really look at this as a political statement, then I don’t know what to tell you,” McKennie said. “The league and everyone (in soccer) always preaches ‘say no to racism’. So I didn’t think that there would be a problem. If I have to take the consequences to express my opinion, to express my feelings, to stand up for what I believe in, then that’s something that I have to do.”

“I felt like it was my responsibility and my duty, especially being American, and with the situation going on in America,” McKennie added. “And I felt like it was the best and biggest platform that I could use to spread awareness. Of course, maybe some people don’t agree with it, but that’s their opinion and for me, I felt like it was my duty and my responsibility to go out to show justice for George Floyd. This is a problem that’s been going on way too long. We’re the only (soccer) league that’s playing right now, all eyes are on the Bundesliga. So I felt like there’s no better way and no better time than now.”

McKennie then went on to detail some of the racist abuse his family have received in the USA and said he wasn’t surprised at all about what happened to George Floyd, but urged people around the world to join the Black Lives Matter movement and the battle to stop police brutality.

“It doesn’t matter the color of your skin. If you believe that this is wrong, if you want to see change, it’s something that you can join. Every voice matters, no matter how big or how small,” McKennie said. “Obviously it’s a global problem and it’s going to take the world to fix it.”