Emblazoned across the outside of each boot is a simple, incontrovertible statement that has become a rallying cry in the fight to end systemic racism: Black Lives Matter.
Other details, all of which center on showing solidarity with the protests that have swept across the nation, include the saying ‘Enough Is Enough” on each of the apparel company’s iconic three stripes, the phrase ‘End Racism’, emojis of hands in different skin tones, and simple messages of optimism.
“People always look to see what types of cleats you’re wearing, or they use it in promotions,” said Ibarra. “Making my own cleats, making it heard that Black Lives Matter, was really big for me. I think with this tournament coming into place and everyone paying attention to MLS now, it was a good way for me to start to make sure it was heard.”
Ibarra’s cleats are a continuation of the squad’s commitment to supporting the fight for justice, with every player on the team wearing Black Lives Matter shirts as they travelled to Orlando for the tournament. Additionally, Ibarra worked with a friend who makes custom shin guards to create a pair that share a similar design as his cleats.
When the squad decided to come together in support of Black Lives Matter, he approached some of the locker room leaders to see if they’d be interested in acquiring the BLM shin guards for all the players.
“There was talk about the shirts, and maybe some [arm] bands,” noted Ibarra. “I had created the shin guards for myself, so I talked to the guys – I talked to Cristian [Roldan], I talked to Stef [Frei] – and told them I could get the whole team these shin guards. I talked to my buddy and he sent over a package for the whole team. Once that was done, the whole team really wanted them. So, I bought them up and gave the whole team a pair.”
Even though Ibarra is one of the most recent additions to the organization, the tightknit, supportive nature of the locker room made him feel comfortable broaching such an important topic with his new teammates.
“Since day one, they made me feel like part of the family,” said Ibarra. “They’ve made me feel like I’ve been here for years.”
The country is at an inflection point as everyone examines the long, tumultuous history of racism in the United States. Ibarra believes it’s important for everyone to speak up, and for the players to utilize their platforms as professional athletes to amplify the national dialogue.
“Everybody knows what’s happening with the world right now,” said Ibarra. “I think the whole team has a great mentality that we all have to stick together. Everybody knows what we’re fighting for and everybody knows that we want our voices to be heard. Unity is a big thing [for us].”