A group of black Major League Soccer (MLS) players have formed a coalition to address systemic racism in their communities and bring about change within the league.
The coalition is the result of an Instagram group that was created after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, which spawned a wave of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Started by Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow, the group has expanded to 70 MLS players. Morrow felt players were already under stress because of the coronavirus and on top of that, George Floyd's death has called for unity among them.
"It kind of felt like my world was crumbling. And when I reached out to my black soccer player peers, they all felt the same way," he said.
“When we came together on that call, it was the most hopeful thing in one of the darkest weeks of my entire life. The conversations centred on whether players felt supported by the league. The players concluded it would be best to form an organization."
Morrow added: "There are goals. To give black players a voice in the league, to encourage black representation in the players’ association and higher levels of MLS and to help local communities. We’ve already come to the table with Major League Soccer and had conversations with them about things that we’d like to see changed."
Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse, Chicago’s CJ Sapong, Nashville’s Jalil Anibaba, NYCFC’s Sean Johnson and Colorado's Kei Kamara are among some of the other players involved.
The coalition has proposed training to promote cultural education and combat implicit bias. It also aims to hire a chief diversity officer. The group has discussed developing the game in black communities and is partnering with charities. It has already secured $75,000 in charitable contributions from the MLS Players Association.
"Major League Soccer proudly recognizes and supports the Black Players Coalition of MLS -- a group of players who today, on Juneteenth, have established themselves as influential change leaders," MLS said in a statement.
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