Black MLS players create coalition to combat racism

By: AFP      Published: 08:37 PM, 19 Jun, 2020
Black MLS players create coalition to combat racism

More than 70 black Major League Soccer players announced Friday they have formed the Black Players Coalition of MLS to combat racism in the United States and Canada.

"There will be change," multiple players tweeted out along with a statement announcing the formation of the group.

The move came on the US recognition of "Juneteenth" -- when, in 1865, American soldiers notified the last slaves in Texas they were free.

"This is a new organization that will address the racial inequalities in our league, stand with all those fighting racism in the world of soccer and positively impact black communities across the United States and Canada," the coalition said in a statement.

"We pledge to help bridge the racial equality gap that exists in our league by lobbying for initiatives like implicit bias training, cultural education courses and diversification hiring practices."

The group vowed to attack systemic racial injustices well beyond the football field as well.

Justin Morrow, an American fullback for Toronto FC, was named executive director of the coalition, whose 11 board members include international players Colorado striker Kei Kamara of Sierra Leone and Costa Rican national team defender Kendall Watson of FC Cincinnati.

The group works in partnership with the MLS Players Association, which has already provided $75,000 in charitable contributions, and MLS.

"MLS produly recognizes and supports the Black Players Coalition of MLS -- a group of players who today, on Juneteenth, have established themselves as influential change leaders," the league said in a statement.

The coalition vowed a "timeless battle" against systemic racism, mindful that speaking out in such a manner often brought consequences.

"We hope our organization can be an extension of our ancestors' sacrifice for the next generation to live in a more equitable society as we seek to forge our own path forward under one united voice."

The coalition said they took inspiration from other athletes' anti-racism initiatives in the wake of global protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota.

"We see you and you empower us," the coalition said. "Whether you happen to be singing this tune alone, or supported by a group, we want you to know that we are with you. We are here to fight this battle together. We will be heard."