United States men’s national team veteran DeAndre Yedlin doesn’t know when — or even if — he’ll wear his country’s colors on the international stage again, telling Sky Sports that “it's hard for me as an African-American male to represent a country that does things like this where all people aren't equal."
The 26-year-old, who plays for Newcastle United in the English Premier League, has made 62 appearances for the USMNT, including at the 2014 World Cup. Yedlin wrote an impassioned post on Twitter earlier this month following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed May 25 while in police custody in Minnesota, in which Yedlin said his grandfather told him he would fear for his life if he still lived in the United States. Floyd’s killing has sparked global outrage and protests demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutally against Black people.
The movement has left Yedlin to seriously consider stepping away from the country’s national squad. “It's something I've thought a lot about during this quarantine,” he said in a video interview with Sky. “It's one of those waiting games to see if a change does happen. But if things go as they stand, it's hard for me as an African-American male to represent a country that does things like this where all people aren't equal.”
The protests have already persuaded the U.S. Soccer Federation to repeal a rule that required national team players to stand during the national anthem before international matches.. That policy was adopted in soon after USWNT star Megan Rapinoe brought attention to the racism and violence inflicted on the African-American community by kneeling in solidarity with then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
President Donald Trump responded to U.S. Soccer decision by saying he would no longer watch the nation’s teams play. “Honestly I couldn't care less if he watches the games, I really don't care,” Yedlin said. “I think the fact people still don't realize why people are taking a knee and saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’ people are being so close-minded to the fact that no one is disrespecting the flag, nobody is saying all lives don't matter.
“But there is a crisis right now where black lives are not up to the standard that white lives are — and that's for other minorities as well.”
The Premier League returned from its three-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic this week. The first 12 games will see players on every team wearing “Black Lives Matter” sleeve patches, with those words also replacing surnames on the back of players’ jerseys. Newcastle’s first match since the restart comes on Sunday against Sheffield United.