RSL defender Nedum Onuoha spearheads effort to help those in organization affected by furloughs, layoffs

A Real Salt Lake player has taken it upon himself to help those in the organization affected by the layoffs and furloughs announced last month.

Nedum Onuoha, a defender who has been with the club since September 2018, led an effort supporting RSL employees who found themselves without jobs after the Major League Soccer season was suspended due to COVID-19.

“It’s a tough time,” Onuoha told The Salt Lake Tribune. “A lot were caught off guard with the furloughs and some weren’t happy with how it all came about. But the club is one where people don’t come here or stay here because of how much money they can make but because they enjoy being here.”

Onuoha, with some help, made a list of people within the organization who had lost their jobs. He gathered details about their positions within RSL. If those weren’t easily attainable, they searched online to ascertain those details.

Once the relevant information was gathered, Onuoha et al. contacted each person, convinced them he wasn’t running a con, got their addresses and sent them checks. He estimated the total to be around 90 employees that received money.

Full time staff received a certain amount, while part time staff got a lesser amount. Onuoha said he thought the initial number of those affected was between 40 and 50. But when it became clear it was more, additional funds were added to each pool.

Onuoha said some fellow RSL players and staff contributed to the two funds. While he did not specially name any of the contributors, he offered that “it represents us all.”

The amount employees received was not disclosed. But one former full time staffer said the money helped significantly.

“It shocked me,” the former staffer said.

Another former full time employee said the gesture’s kindness solicited a strong reaction.

"It made me cry when I heard about it,” the second employee said, adding that their check was signed by Onuoha and appeared to come from his personal bank account.

Onuoha said he felt it was important to let the employees know they were on the minds of the players and staff and they were willing to help during the uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has caused.

“We want to safely return but it’s not the same unless everybody is there with us,” Onuoha said. “And the environment we had is one which we cherished so we would love to have it back one day. So even if some think they that they’re unwanted or nonessential, we know that without them the club wouldn’t be the same — whether you’re a sales assistant or an athletic trainer.”