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Sons of Ben president resigns after pushback from comments on podcast, statement

Matt Gendaszek has served as president since 2019; Jess Gusler has stepped in as interim

MLS: New York City FC at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Sons of Ben president Matt Gendaszek resigned his position on Tuesday night hours after releasing a statement in response to push-back over comments he made on the supporters group’s podcast directed at members upset with the way the group handled its response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial ruling on abortion.

The Philadelphia Union supporters group released a statement June 28 decrying the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.

“We believe reproductive rights are non-negotiable human rights,” the statement read in part. “We’re committed to building an inclusive, safe and supportive soccer community and we recognize our responsibility in addressing the concerns of not only our membership but the local communities we’re engaged in.”

During an episode of Sons of Ben: The Pod recorded live in a suite at Subaru Park and released on July 1, Gendaszek addressed members who were pushing for the group to make a statement sooner.

“As President, this is coming from me, this isn’t coming from the board, I’m gonna say two words to a few people out there: fuck you,” he said. “You know who I’m talking about but there’s people on fucking Twitter that were like ‘I need to know where you stand.’ No, you know what you need, you needed your statement because you want other people to agree with you. If we had come up with a different statement your panties would’ve gone fucking nuts.”

Gendaszek has served as the group’s president since June 2018 when he took over as interim after Bill Gusler stepped down. Gendaszek was elected by the membership to continue as president in 2019 and got to do the honors of presenting the team the Supporters’ Shield trophy on the field in 2020.

In his comments on the podcast, he also questioned whether the statement was necessary.

“You’re telling a bunch of volunteers to dedicate more of their time to make a statement where I don’t know if we needed to,” he said. “Because I tell you, it’s not going to move the needle. What I will tell you as a group, as a supporters group, we will support the people in this group, whatever side of the fence you’re on. You’re a member of the group, we’re there for you.”

Gendaszek put out a statement late Tuesday afternoon to attempt to clarify his comments on the podcast.

In it, Gendaszek wrote that his words were “directed at 5 or 6 Twitter warriors who were harassing board members because in their opinion a statement was not made in a timeline to their liking” and noted that he voted in favor of the group putting out the statement after initially feeling it didn’t fall within the parameters of the group’s mission. He also apologized in his personal statement and said it was not his intent to make anyone feel uncomfortable before reiterating that all are loved, welcome and supported by the group.

The supporters group released a follow-up statement announcing Gendaszek’s resignation a few hours later after getting additional push-back to Gendaszek’s statement. They also took down the president’s statement.

“We apologize for using our platform to share a message that hurt and disappointed many in our membership, fellow supporters groups and people in our community,” the statement from the Sons of Ben read in part.

Jess Gusler will be taking over as interim president with an election forthcoming this fall. The Sons of Ben was famously founded in 2007, three years before the Philadelphia Union played their inaugural season in MLS.