The election of controversial figure Donald Trump to be the next American president does not affect much around Everton Football Club. However, in the circles of world football, the result of the vote comes at coincidentally a very interesting time for US soccer.
The USA takes on Mexico on Friday this week to kick off the final round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia. Trump had received plenty of criticism in the lead-up to the US elections for his denigrating comments about Mexicans in general, calling them “criminals and rapists”.
Former Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who now plays for the Colorado Rapids in the MLS and is the starting goalie for the USMNT, had this to say about the election process -
“They count the votes and they tell me who’s president in the morning. I wouldn’t have voted for Trump if I voted, but there it is.
“Some guys [on the team] are more into politics than others. I’m not.”
Asked if Trump’s comments about Mexico would create tension in the stadium in Columbus, Ohio where the game is being held -
“They are going to be excited hopefully for a U.S. win. It’s politics and this is football. Mexico is going to try to kick our asses and we’re going to try to kick theirs. It’s got nothing to do with politics.”
Team captain Michael Bradley, whose father Bob Bradley now manages Swansea City, was much more outspoken however -
“Given the way everything has gone [in the political arena] the last few months, there is an added layer to this game.
“But my general feeling is that we, as Americans, trust our system, we respect our democracy and, regardless of your beliefs, regardless of how you voted, we have an obligation to come together, get behind our new president and to have faith and trust that he will do what’s best for the entire country.
“That’s what we’ve always done and, in moments like this, it’s easy to question things, but again, this is what makes our country great — the fact that we have our system where every American can go and vote. The results may not be what every person wanted — some people are happy, others aren’t — but the way forward is to come together and give our new president support and rally behind him.
“The whole thing has been incredibly captivating. I followed it closely.”
He continued to say that he hoped politics and sport would not mix in the stadium on Friday -
“I would hope our fans do what they always do, which is support our team in the best, most passionate way possible. I would hope they give every person in that stadium the respect they deserve, whether they are American, Mexican, neutral. I hope every person that comes to the stadium comes ready to enjoy what we all want to be a beautiful game between two sporting rivals that have a lot of respect for each other, and hope that it’s a special night in every way.”
Teenage sensation Christian Pulisic, who plays for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, turned 18 in September but refused to register to vote.
“I thought, ‘Why? I’m not voting for either of these candidates,’ so I didn’t get to it.
“Europeans are interested, and they are thinking, ‘What’s going on with this whole election thing?’ They ask me about it, yeah, simple stuff like, ‘Is this a joke?’ And I am like, ‘No, I think Donald Trump is really running for president. He has a real chance.’”