Black MLS players form new coalition to combat racism

More than 70 Major League Soccer athletes have joined forces to form MLS’s first Black Players Coalition, “a new organization that will address the racial inequities in our league, stand with all of those fighting racism in the world of soccer, and positively impact Black communities across the United States and Canada,” the non-profit group announced on Friday.

Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow will serve as the BPC’s executive director. Its board includes fellow MLS veterans Quincy Amarikwa, Jalil Anibaba, Jeremy Ebobisse, Earl Edwards, Ray Gaddis, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Kei Kamara, Ike Opara, CJ Sapong and Kendall Waston. While the BPC is fully independent of the league, commissioner Don Garber said that the coalition has the support of MLS brass.

On a conference call with reporters, Morrow said that the idea came about following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man killed while in police custody last month. Graphic video of Floyd’s killing — all four officers involved in the incident were fired and charged, one, Derek Chauvin, with second-degree murder — sparked universal outrage and protests demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

Floyd’s death came while MLS and other sports leagues were shut down by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. MLS is planning to resume its 2020 season next month with a World Cup-style tournament in Orlando, Florida.

“It kind of felt like my world was crumbling, and when I reached out to my my black soccer player peers, they all felt the same way,” Morrow 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 date of the news was no accident. June 19, known as “Juneteenth,” marks the anniversary of the last remaining slaves in Confederate states learning that the South had surrendered during the American Civil War and that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

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