New soccer program combats racism; calls for increased representation in sport

Forms diversity committee

OW Staff Writer

Major League Soccer (MLS) has unveiled a series of initiatives to combat racism, advocate for social justice and increase representation in the sport. The new programs, which include the formation of a Diversity Committee consisting of members of the MLS Board of Governors, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, representatives of the Black Players For Change (BPC), and other members of the soccer community, are the result of several months of discussions with key stakeholders across the league, including a recent meeting between the MLS Board and the BPC.

“Major League Soccer is committed to utilizing our wide-ranging platforms to create meaningful programs to address racism and social injustice in society and in the sport of soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

The MLS league office, along with the MLS Board of Governors and member clubs, have committed to the following initiatives:

• MLS Diversity Committee – The creation of this group, which will be part of the formal MLS committee structure, will include MLS owners, 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. Among the committee’s goals will be to work with the league to develop a strategy toward diversity, inclusion, opportunity and social justice, including supporting and championing the proposed initiatives.

• Civic Engagement Initiative – MLS will use league resources to address issues of public concern among marginalized communities. Areas of focus will include the recently created MLS Unites to Vote initiative, along with turnkey programs that encourage community participation in civic activities.

• Soccer Upward Mobility Initiative – MLS will provide access, exposure, and clearly defined career paths that develop talent from underrepresented groups. This initiative will include developing pathways of entrance and advancement for emerging and current talent, in addition to creating policies and an educational ecosystem to increase Black representation in executive and sporting positions at the league office, the member clubs and other North American soccer organizations.

• Youth and Grassroots Community Initiative – MLS will use league resources to close the representation gap across the broad spectrum of the sport in North America with the goal of increasing participation and opportunity for members of underserved communities.

• MLS is building a Supplier Diversity Program to provide meaningful opportunities and economic inclusion to minority-owned businesses. This will include spending around MLS major events, hiring of agencies and vendors.

• Partnerships—MLS has formed partnerships with 100 Black Men of America and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

In addition to a financial commitment, MLS will collaborate with both organizations to develop long-term programming centered around mentorship, workplace development, social justice, health and wellness, and financial literacy.

In addition to these initiatives, MLS owners have contributed $1 million to Black Players For Change.

SOURCE: http://ourweekly.com/

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