Seattle Sounders FC players Obafemi Martins and Djimi Traore are used to being in the public eye through playing careers that have taken them across some of the top leagues in Europe and now to Major League Soccer.
Both said Wednesday that they are pleased to put their celebrity to use now through participation in public-awareness advertisements concerning Ebola, the deadly disease raging primarily in West Africa.
“We know people watch us a lot,” Traore said. “Of course, when you have somebody famous who can pass the message it’s easier to understand. It is part of the job for us, and we do that with pleasure.”
The two Sounders appear along with Darlington Nagbe of the Portland Timbers in a 30-second advertisement produced by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The spots have been aired in cooperation with MLS Works, the league’s community outreach initiative that has tackled other issues such as breast cancer awareness and the Nothing but Nets malaria prevention campaign. The Ebola ads have appeared during telecasts of league matches.
A similar ad features Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson. Additional information and both videos are available at TackleEbola.com.
The soccer ad begins with Nagbe saying, “Ebola is a global issue,” before Martins adds, “The virus has no cure,” and Traore continues, “With your help we can stop it from spreading.”
All three players have African connections.
Martins is a native of Lagos, Nigeria, and has played with the Nigerian national team.
Traore was born and raised in Paris. However, his parents are from Mali, and he has played with the Mali national team.
“Right now it has not spread in Mali yet,” Traore said. “But you need to be careful because now what you see is it’s coming more and more. Of course, Mali is a big country, and once somebody has got it, he can pass it on to everyone. We need to be careful and warn the people.”
Nagbe is from Liberia, which already has been hit hard.
Martins leads the Sounders with a club-record 17 goals this season after a career that has taken him through Italy, England, Germany, Russia and Spain.
Traore has 13 games in a season that has been dotted with injuries. Before coming to the United States last year, he played with professional clubs in France and England.
Both Sounders admit that their African roots personalize the issue for them. However, both also stress that Ebola should be everyone’s concern and it could become anyone’s problem. On Wednesday, the patient with the first diagnosed case in the United States died in a Dallas hospital.
“It’s a global thing right now,” Martins said. “I think they need us to try and support them. People who want to contribute, they’re doing it now. I hope it’s going to go away soon.”
Sounders FC announced Wednesday that its first home playoff match will be played Monday, Nov. 10 at CenturyLink Field against an opponent to be determined. The Monday date was chosen to allow time for the gridiron markings to be scrubbed away after the Seahawks’ game with the New York Giants the day before. “We wanted to be in a situation where we could play on a clean field,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “If we played earlier, if we played in advance of (the NFL) game, that might not have been possible.” … Schmid said midfielder Gonzalo Pineda (ankle) and defenders Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) and Zach Scott (ankle) are progressing and should be ready to at least be part of the 18-man game-day roster Friday when the Vancouver Whitecaps visit CenturyLink Field.