Over 70 Black Major League Soccer players have formed a new coalition aimed at addressing racial inequalities throughout the league, around the soccer world, and across the United States and Canada.
The Black Players Coalition, headed up by Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow and led by an 11-player board, was officially unveiled on Friday.
“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,” read the BPC’s statement upon announcing its establishment. “Beyond addressing these overlooked systemic issues around soccer in this country, the BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have prevented Black people from having an equitable stake in society.”
Friday marks Juneteenth, a commemoration of the day of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.
“As we celebrate Juneteenth and the coming together of our coalition, we must remind ourselves that such progressivism was once met with vehement backlash,” the coalition’s statement read. “May this reminder serve as a warning to us all that confronting systematic racism head-on will never be a smooth, constantly upward-trending path, but rather a timeless battle that will force us to reinvent the very essence of our institutions.”
The BPC’s founding comes at a time when many athletes are speaking up and using their platforms to rid sports and society of racial injustices as part of the powerful Black Lives Matter movement.
Morrow is the executive director of the nonprofit organization. Among the coalition’s board members are Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis, Chicago Fire forward C.J. Sapong, FC Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston, Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse, New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson, D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, Nashville SC defender Jalil Anibaba, Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara, Minnesota United defender Ike Opara, D.C United goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. and former D.C. United forward Quincy Amarikwa.
Major League Soccer issued a statement in support of the new coalition, and its players association made a $75,000 donation: