Weston McKennie is not shying away from the spotlight, not backing down from what he believes and not afraid to speak out against the most powerful man in the world.
The USMNT and Schalke midfielder said U.S. President Donald Trump is racist in an interview published in the German magazine Sport Bild this week, adding that he doesn’t feel Trump is fit to be president.
McKennie spoke out after weeks of protests following the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The 21-year-old Texan was one of the first professional athletes around the world to show support for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations during a match when he wore a “Justice for George” armband during a Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen. McKennie was quickly followed by similar statements and actions from Marcus Thuram and Jadon Sancho. Soon, clubs like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt were wearing Black Lives Matter warm-up shirts and taking knees before matches.
In his interview with Sport Bild, which was published in German, McKennie made clear his feelings on the current U.S. President.
“In my eyes, he can be called racist,” McKennie said. “I don’t think Trump is the right man for the job of president. I don’t think he understands his responsibility to the entire country. I think he’s ignorant. I don’t support him one bit. I don’t think he’s a man of his word.”
It will be interesting to see how U.S. fans react to these comments when the USMNT plays next.
In a country where many are afraid to call out others for being racist — for some reason it feels like it’s a greater taboo to be called a racist than to do and say racist things — McKennie has shown he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He’s by no means the first U.S. national team player to speak out against the president (Megan Rapinoe, anyone?), nor is he without counterparts in the U.S. soccer scene (Geoff Cameron springs to mind).
Now before you get all mad on Facebook about us posting these comments, saying leave politics out of soccer, remember that sports and politics have always been intertwined and we’re just reporting what McKennie is saying and whether or not we agree is irrelevant. If there were prominent U.S. soccer players talking about how great Trump has been, we’d report about that too. (If you know of any such talk, please let us know.)
McKennie also spoke out against the excessive force police have used against Americans protesting police violence. In one instance, federal troops used chemical weapons and rubber bullets to clear out a peaceful protest so government officials could take part in a photo op at a church.
“There might be a small minority which does not protest peacefully; but the majority does it,” McKennie said. “And if you then fire with tear gas and rubber bullets, it rather looks that the government rather wants to provoke something to create a false image. If (Trump) walks to the church and poses with the Bible, it’s just not the truth. It’s like in those videos in which you can see that peaceful demonstrators are attacked.”
Last week, McKennie released a powerful video featuring many professional footballers (and a couple NBA players) saying “enough is enough” spliced together with footage of police violence.
Some ways you can help today: https://t.co/lSMbN86Nle— Weston McKennie (@WMckennie) June 3, 2020
“Basically, it’s important that we athletes are also committed to the fight against racism, because we have the exposure,” McKennie said. “That’s why it’s up to all of us.”