Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin appeared in a Zoom call with the media on Wednesday after the announcement of the Orlando tournament. He had a lot to talk about as he discussed MLS return, racism, Cory Burke, mental health and more.
Despite the numerous topics to cover Curtin made sure to start the call with a developed and powerful statement denouncing a ‘’racist U.S’’ and systematic injustice.
“We live in a country in the United States that is racist. We live in a world that is racist. And if you zoom out and you look at the game of soccer that we play, we play a game where racism is as prevalent as in any other sport,”
The 40-year-old highlighted the racism in the stadium as well, he added: “You still have issues in 2020 of horrible racist chants in stadiums, bananas thrown on the field at players and minimal, to almost no punishment or change,”
“I look at this problem in our country as not a southern problem or a middle-of-the-country problem or a West Coast problem or an East Coast problem, or a liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat problem. It’s one that affects everybody and it’s present each and every day of our lives.”
The Union boss expressed his opinion on his role: “We’ve reached a point now where there’s been the start of a lot of action – and I feel almost not worthy to speak on action, but I do feel I have a platform and I do think that I can at least speak to some simple things that we can all look to do.”
“The question is, what are you willing to risk to change history?” he said. “I believe that black people over their entire lives in the last 400 years have been willing to risk everything … And they’ll continue to risk everything. And I think it’s time now that leadership in our country and government, white people in general, have to be willing to risk more.’’
When asked about how his players have handled everything transpiring, he said: ‘’The one thing that needs to be brought up during this time is the mental side of the game, and the mental health of the players, the mental health of everybody in the world. ’The league has, through the people that will be down at Disney, made available some mental health coaches and doctors to the players so that’s a real growing part of the game.’’
‘’As a coach, when my players feel good and are motivated and are happy and are mentally feeling you know stable and strong and confident,” he added. “That’s when they’re at their best.’’
‘’As much as it’s a physical competition in Orlando the mental exercise will be the real too.’’
Finally, the American gaffer reflected on loanee striker Cory Burke who scored a hat-trick last week for Austrian side St Polten. ‘’He scored some very Cory Burke goals, good hard runs in the box and a real commitment to defend,” Curtin said. “I thought he worked really hard.’’
‘’He showed a lot of what makes him a pain in the butt for center backs to deal with in the MLS,’’ he said.
Curtin insisted that Burke had an ‘’advantage’’ compared to his teammates in the MLS, considering that he will be playing regularly until the end of the Austrian season in early July. He also confirmed that the Jamaican’s return to Philadelphia remains undetermined.