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USATSI

Major League Soccer has founded the Black Players Coalition of MLS in an effort to combat racism surrounding the sport, the league announced on Friday. The group will be made up of more than 70 Black players that will attempt to "address the racial inequalities" across the league.

"MLS proudly recognizes and supports the Black Players Coalition of Major League Soccer -- a group of players who today, on Juneteenth, have established themselves as influential change leaders," the league said in a press release. "The League looks forward to continued and longstanding collaborations with the Black Players Coalition of Major League Soccer through efforts aimed at developing the game in Black communities, prioritizing diversity, and addressing implicit bias through league-wide cultural and educational initiatives."

Here's a look at the board members of the Black Players Coalition:

  • Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis
  • Chicago Fire forward C.J. Sapong
  • Former D.C. United forward Quincy Amarikwa
  • 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.

The league announcement comes on Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day slavery came to an end in 1865. 

The Black Players Coalition has already received $75,000 in donations from the MLS Players Association. The group is a non-profit organization that is "working in partnership with the MLSPA and MLS on racial issues, aforementioned initiatives, and charitable donations."

One of the driving forces in establishing this group was the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May. 

"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 statement continued. "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. Among the many goals we will strive to achieve in our black communities, some will include targeted spending, educational advancement initiatives, and mentorship programs."