Cyclist Quinn Simmons, 19, was suspended Thursday, Oct. 1, by the Trek-Segafredo team after posting comments on social networks in support of President Donald Trump. The decision was made by the team’s authorities despite the fact that the comments were not at all aggressive or controversial.
The message that caused the stir was made on Twitter in response to a journalist from the Netherlands who had criticized President Trump.
The 2019 World Youth Championship cyclist reacted Wednesday when the journalist tweeted that he hoped for his American friends that “this horrible presidency will end for you,” adding “If you follow me and support Trump, you can leave.”
Simmons responded by writing “Bye” with an emoji of a dark-skinned hand waving.
— Quinn Simmons (@QuinnSimmons9) September 30, 2020
Later, another account responded to his tweet by writing, “Apparently you’re a Trumper,” to which Simmons responded, “That’s right,” with a symbol of the U.S. flag.
According to The Associated Press, Trek-Segafredo decided to immediately suspend the young man and said in a statement, “Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport,” Trek-Segafredo said in a statement.
Trek-Segafredo later issued a second statement quoting Simmons as saying that he had not intended to offend anyone with his tweets.
“To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way,” Simmons said. “I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.”
He added, “To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.”
The Trek-Segafredo team describes Quinn Simmons on its official website as the youngest member of the team and claims that the cyclist is at his best in sports.
The decision is really strange and extreme considering that none of the messages written by Quinn can be interpreted as offensive.
It is not the first time during elections that an athlete has suffered some kind of sanction from the club or team he is part of for expressing his political ideals.
According to Bles, in mid-September two young football players from Little Miami High School were suspended from their team, after entering the field during the last game with American flags with a thin blue line and a red line, showing support for the police and firefighters forces.
In a video published by David Winter, a local reporter, on his Twitter account, you can see the entry of both players.
Two Little Miami football players pay the price for civil disobedience. They were told not to carry onto the field thin blue line and thin red line flags at their 9/11 game. They did anyway. The school has now suspended them from the team indefinitely. #ThinBlueLine #ThinRedLine pic.twitter.com/19y9GAvaxr
— David Winter (@DavidWinterTV) September 14, 2020
While such flags are common and do not imply anything outside the law, the institution interpreted where a certain part of the population questions the functioning of the police force, it could be provocative.