NEW YORK – Major League Soccer Monday 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 league’s board of governors, commissioner Don Garber, representatives of the Black Players For Change, 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,” Garber said in a statement. “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.”
The new 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
The league 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. This initiative will include collaborating with MLS NEXT to increase representation among players, coaches and referees.
Supplier Diversity Program
The league 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 the selection of vendors, among many areas of league and club business.
MLS also owners have contributed $1 million to Black Players For Change to aid in the growth of the organization in the coming years.