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Why TFC captain Michael Bradley and coach Greg Vanney chose to stand for the national anthem

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Post-game quotes from Michael Bradley, Greg Vanney, and Justin Morrow. Presented without commentary.

Toronto FC v Montreal Impact
Michael Bradley #4 of Toronto FC stands while his teammates and members of the Montreal Impact kneel during the pre-game ceremony of the MLS game at Saputo Stadium on August 28, 2020
(Panagiotakis/Getty)

Presented without commentary.

Greg Vanney on why he chose to stand for the Canadian national anthem:

“Really, it’s for two reasons: I have one assistant coach on my staff, Jason Bent, (who is Canadian) and he was going to stand through the anthem. That’s his choice and we stood with him. In addition to that, I knew there was going to be a moment of silence for the Black Lives Matter, and I was going to take a knee during that period to honour that cause, so I tried to both at those two times.”

Michael Bradley on why he chose to stand:

“It’s obviously something I’ve thought a lot about. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, speaking to different people. I could talk about myself and give you my thought process, but it’s not about me. 30 seconds talking about myself is 30 seconds we should be talking about the real issues that exist in society. The conversation and rhetoric that has been created around the decision for people to peacefully protest by kneeling, it’s designed by the people who don’t want change and to take away from the real conversations that we need to be having every single day. That’s what they want. They want this divisive, hateful rhetoric conversation where there’s no nuance, there’s no middle ground. For me, I will always be a strong voice for racial equality. I will continue to try to do everything I can to use the platform that I have to talk about things I believe are important.

When you look at society right now, it’s heartbreaking to see the systemic racism that exists after hundreds of years. The social injustice, the police brutality, it all has to end. And I wholeheartedly support Black Lives Matter. I will continue to try to live my life in a way where the people that I deal with on a daily basis, the things that I do, I’m able to help in any way I can in that change.

So for me, I spent that moment in the national anthem thinking about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake, thinking of them, thinking of their families. I want justice for them. I want to live in a world and society where the hateful, hurtful things that have been going on for hundreds of years comes to an end.”

Justin Morrow on Michael Bradley and Greg Vanney standing for the national anthem:

“First and foremost, I completely support them. There’s no other two people who have been in my corner more than those two guys. I explained to you how difficult this whole situation has been for me in the past couple of days because I’m the leader for Black Players for Change (of MLS), and how much has been on my plate, and these guys have been behind me for every second of the way so nobody should be coming at them.

I’ve said from the very beginning that standing or kneeling for the national anthem is acceptable because the conversation at the end of the day gets turned sideways. These guys show their support in so many different ways for us, and it wasn’t with the national anthem tonight, but they take knees other times, they wear shirts, they support us behind the scenes, and for me, that’s more than enough.

These conversations are incredibly hard. It was something that we talked about as a team before, but even up until the last minutes til we walk onto the pitch, players are still making decisions. And for me, it was just important that we talked about it as a team beforehand so that guys knew what was coming. Because the worst thing that could happen is that players are unsure that the anthem is going to get played and they get caught in the moment, and then they’re just awkwardly doing what their teammates are doing without thinking it through.

So I know those two have thoroughly thought it through, so they’ll be speaking on that, but like I said, nobody should be coming after them because they support us more than anybody.”