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Red Bulls players, supporters groups express support for George Floyd protests

Several current and former RBNY figures speak out during week of unrest across New York and the nation

Protests Against Police Brutality Over Death Of George Floyd Continue In NYC Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

As the nation enters its second week gripped by protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the world of professional sports is learning like society at large that silence is not an option. While many individual athletes have directly supported the protests from the outset, even professional teams and leagues have begun offering official statements regarding the events that range from bravely supportive to insidiously vague.

The traditionally controversy-wary Red Bull New York front office has chosen to tread lightly but affirmatively on their communications platforms during the week’s events. The club offered an approving re-tweet of New Jersey governor Phil Murphy’s sympathetic statement on the crisis, albeit one that makes no explicit mention of police or violence. The RBNY social media channels additionally participated in the increasingly contentious “black out” posting trend, but shrewdly avoiding some of the key online hashtags that many have claimed are being diluted by the practice of posting a solid black square.

It is perhaps unfair to expect sports teams (especially ones with a corporate ethos as sterile as Red Bull) to be on the vanguard of insurgent social movements. To be sure, they could have said nothing or even antagonized their own staff in the case of USL club Charlotte Independence. But as the club itself sticks to the restrained line one has quickly come to expect from large brands, many of the club’s players and fans have offered more direct thoughts and even actions amidst the national reckoning of decades of law enforcement excess.

Midfielder and captain Sean Davis as well as defender Amro Tarek posted stories on their Instagram accounts indicating presence at the protests taking place in Manhattan on Monday, while a particularly stark message was posted by RBNY winger Alex Muyl on his Instagram account, asking readers to “flood social media, along with the streets and the voting booths” following a detailed examination of the issues at hand.

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No justice No peace

A post shared by Alex Muyl (@lex_mmwheel19) on

Former Red Bulls have been using their platforms to express solidarity with the protests as well. Former midfielder Tyler Adams showed his support by writing “#BlackLivesMatter” and “Justice 4 George” on his boots for Monday’s Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and FC Köln.

In comments to The Football Show on SiriusXM radio former RBNY manager and current Red Bull Salzburg head Jesse Marsch discussed the way soccer has encouraged him to learn more about different cultures and backgrounds and offered explicit criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the situation:

“Bringing people from different cultures, different nationalities different backgrounds...is one of the beauties of our sport.”

“Where I’m from in Wisconsin, I think there’s always been a difference in the way people think in cities and the way people think in the countryland and that’s always been sad to me.”

“My wife and I want people to come together but not in a way that causes harm to more people, but we need fucking leadership and it starts with the fucking president and the behavior is just unacceptable.”

The club’s fans have also made their voices heard as well. On Tuesday night the Empire Supporters Club issued a joint statement with Sky Blue FC’s Cloud 9 supporters group that expressed strong support for the messaging of the protests and promised to set up ways for group members to assist financially. This follows statements from Viking Army SC that their section of the South Ward as well remained supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a time when many sports teams and figures are choosing to remain equivocal or even silent in the face of a social crisis, a team and fanbase with a proud history of fighting rightist extremism is continuing the make their voices heard.