MLS won't punish Alejandro Bedoya for imploring Congress to 'end gun violence'

Common sense prevailed, and as a result Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya won’t face discipline from Major League Soccer for picking up a live microphone after scoring in Sunday’s 5-1 win over D.C. United and urging Congress to “do something” about the gun violence that claims almost 40,000 lives in the United States each year.

Bedoya’ outburst was in response to a pair of mass shootings over the weekend that killed 29 people in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. On Monday, MLS issued a statement supporting Bedoya’s decision to speak out, without specifically mentioning his name or Sunday’s incident.

“The Major League Soccer family joins everyone in grieving for the loss of lives in Texas and Ohio, and we understand that our players and staff have strong and passionate views on this issue,” the statement read.

Like other sports leagues, MLS generally frowns on fans or players using its matches as platform for political statements. But while Bedoya’s specific comment — “Congress, do something now! End gun violence, let’s go!” — is political, he’s hardly the only one frustrated with the growing spate of massacres committed by deranged individuals who never should’ve had access to weapons that enable them to kill dozens in seconds.

“In regards to my statement during my goal celebration, it’s a shame it’s seen as a political one,” Bedoya, who represented the U.S. men’s national team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, wrote on Instagram on Monday, shortly after being named the MLS Player of the Week. “For me, my comments were simply humane. Sharing a sentiment that I consider most Americans can agree on. As in, we need to act like the UNITED States of America and come together to work on solutions to put an end to the gross rate of gun violence in our great country.”

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Bedoya was lauded on social media and around the league. Union coach Jim Curtin expressed his full support for his captain after the match. Later, the club issued a statement saying the same thing. Several opponents also backed the popular veteran, including former U.S. teammate Brad Guzan of Atlanta United, who spoke of the sense that’s set in recently that these incidents can happen anywhere.

“I think you worry more about going to the grocery store than you do about playing in a stadium,” Guzan told ProSoccerUSA.com.

Fining or suspending Bedoya for expressing that sentiment would’ve been a terrible look for MLS. But then the league has struggled to balance allowing free speech and keeping hateful signs, slogans or groups out of its stadiums. It drew public criticism earlier this year for not quickly and forcefully condemning known members of a violent neo-fascist organization that had been menacing fellow supporters at New York City FC games, and again for preventing Seattle Sounders fans from displaying the logo of an anti-Nazi paramilitary organization formed in Germany before World War II.

This one was a no-brainer: The New York Times reported that MLS officials huddled inside the league’s Manhattan headquarters on Monday morning before quickly determining that no further action was required.

Bedoya has spoken out about gun violence before, including on social media before Sunday’s game after the two mass shootings that came less than 24 hours apart. The 32-year-old New Jersey native grew up in suburban Miami a short drive from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff members were gunned down by an unhinged former classmate early last year.

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Protests against gun violence following Florida school shooting
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Protests against gun violence following Florida school shooting
Students who walked out of their Montgomery County, Maryland, schools protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Protestors rally outside the Capitol urging Florida lawmakers to reform gun laws, in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Students from South Plantation High School carrying placards and shouting slogans walk on the street during a protest in support of the gun control, following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Plantation, Florida, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, PARKLAND, FLORIDA. 02/25/2018 In the background, the school building, now slated to be demolished, where 17 children and teachers were killed by lone gunman Nikolas Cruz. On February 14, 2018, a former school Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz entered the school at 2.30pm and proceeded to kill 3 teachers and 14 school children in a 7 minute shooting spree. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is located in Parkland, Florida, in the Miami metropolitan area. It is a part of the Broward County Public School district, and it is the only public high school in Parkland. (Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)
Students from South Plantation High School carrying placards and shouting slogans walk on the street during a protest in support of the gun control, following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Plantation, Florida, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Melissa Conrad-Freed, former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Mark Forst, mourn close to the fence of Western High School during a protest in support of the gun control, in Davie, Florida, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
After walking out of class with hundreds of her fellow students at Walt Whitman High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, Gwen Parks holds up her hands during a protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Students from South Plantation High School carrying placards and shouting slogans walk on the street during a protest in support of the gun control, following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Plantation, Florida, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Students from South Plantation High School carrying placards and shouting slogans walk on the street during a protest in support of the gun control, following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Plantation, Florida, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A protester holds a sign at a Call To Action Against Gun Violence rally by the Interfaith Justice League and others in Delray Beach, Florida, U.S. February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Students who walked out of their classes at Montgomery County, Maryland schools, protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Students who walked out of their Montgomery County, Maryland, schools protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Baltimore students outside City Hall stage a #gunsdowngradesup school walkout on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 to protest gun violence in schools and the city. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
Students from South Plantation High School carrying placards and shouting slogans walk on the street during a protest in support of the gun control, following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Plantation, Florida, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
SOMERVILLE, MA - FEBRUARY 28: Senior Gabriel Kafka-Gibbons, left, and junior Seweryn Brzezinski, center, sit on the sidewalk during a student walkout at Somerville High School in Somerville, MA on Feb. 28, 2018. Some 200 Somerville High School students walked out at 8:17 a.m. to demand an end to gun-related violence in the wake of the attack in a Florida high school that left 17 people dead. The students exited the school as scheduled, at a time that reflects the number of staffers and students murdered Feb. 14 at a Parkland, FL, school, and then gathered outside as part of a 17-minute long silent protest. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2018 -- Students from Washington local high schools demonstrate for stricter gun control outside the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on Feb. 21, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he has recommended that 'bump stocks', devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, be banned, while debates on gun rights continue across the country. (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, PARKLAND, FLORIDA. 02/25/2018 A young school child holds a sign 'Protect Children NOT Guns' at Stoneman Douglas High School. On February 14, 2018, a former school Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz entered the school at 2.30pm and proceeded to kill 3 teachers and 14 school children in a 7 minute shooting spree. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is located in Parkland, Florida, in the Miami metropolitan area. It is a part of the Broward County Public School district, and it is the only public high school in Parkland. Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images
Rabbi Jack Romberg speaks at a rally during which several thousand protestors urge Florida lawmakers to reform gun laws outside the Capitol, in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Protestors rally outside the Capitol urging Florida lawmakers to reform gun laws, in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Protestors rally outside the Capitol urging Florida lawmakers to reform gun laws, in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Protestors rally outside the Capitol urging Florida lawmakers to reform gun laws, in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
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