Major League Soccer has released a set of programs that will help to fight racism in the league. The programs will also fight for social justice and increase representation in the game.
The initiative resulted in the creation of the Diversity Committee which includes Major League Soccer Board of Governors, MLS owners, Black Players For Change (BPC) leadership, club executives, head coaches, academy coaches, former MLS players, and members of Pitch Black, a resource group of Black employees from MLS’ league office
To ensure that the work of the diversity committee is all-encompassing, the MLS drive to fight racism and sustain social justice has also led to the formation of Civic Engagement Initiative, Soccer Upward Mobility Initiative, and Youth and Grassroots Community Initiative.
“Major League Soccer is committed to utilizing our wide-ranging platforms to create meaningful programs to address racism and social injustice in society and the sport of soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
“Importantly, alongside key stakeholders, including MLS owners, Black Players For Change, former players, Black members of our technical staff, and other employees, we have created a series of initiatives to close the representation gap across soccer in the U.S. and Canada.”
Arguably, Major League Soccer has been very active in ensuring that racism in soccer is reduced to the barest minimum across the league. The drive of the league to ensure that there is no discrimination gained more momentum after the death of George Floyd, an African-American who was killed by white police earlier this year.
Since then, most clubs and individual players in MLS have made it a culture to take a knee before any league match especially when the national attempt of the United States is being sung.
However, this culture has always attracted mixed reactions from both players and fans of the league. Some see it as an insult to the country while others insist that it is a way to keep showing solidarity with those agitating for social justice and eradication of racism.
Based on the new initiatives of the MLS, the newly formed Diversity Committee will “work with the league to develop a strategy toward diversity, inclusion, opportunity and social justice, including supporting and championing the proposed initiatives”.
On the other hand, the Civic Engagement Initiative was formed to address issues of public concern among marginalized communities. The Soccer Upward Mobility Initiative “will provide access, exposure, and clearly defined career paths that develop talent from underrepresented groups”.
While the Youth and Grassroots Community Initiative has the representatives to “close the representation gap across the broad spectrum of the sport in North America to increase participation and opportunity for members of underserved communities”.