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MLS announces initiatives for fighting racism and increasing Black representation in soccer

The league has worked with the Black Players for Change organization for months in order to do so.

MLS: Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS announced on Monday a series of initiatives developed in order to help the league better combat racism and increase Black representation in their sport, done in partnership with Black Players for Change (BPC). These steps involve the formation of a Diversity Committee and $1 million contributed to BPC.

The Diversity Committee will consist of members from the MLS Board of Governors, MLS commissioner Don Garber, and select representatives of the BPC and other members of the soccer community. It is something that happened as the result of many months of discussion.

The BPC was officially formed on Juneteenth — a day which commemorates when Union forces in Texas delivered the news of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the last group of slaves in the U.S. — after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The group consists of more than 170 MLS players, one of them being forward Jeremy Ebobisse of the Portland Timbers.

The changes don’t stop with the committee and money donated. There are also plans to increase civic engagement, support more minority-owned businesses, and more. Here are all the announced initiatives:

MLS Diversity Committee: The new 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’s 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 other 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. This initiative will include collaborating with MLS NEXT to increase representation among players, coaches and referees.

Supplier Diversity Program: MLS is building a Supplier Diversity Program to provide meaningful opportunities and economic inclusion to minority-owned businesses. This will include spending around major MLS major, hiring of agencies and the selection of vendors, among many areas of league and club business.

Partnerships with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and 100 Black Men of America: 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.

You can read more about it here.