MLS unveils new player-initiated Anti-Discrimination Policy to combat racial intolerance

Restorative practices and player-led intercultural awareness training are key components of the new guidelines

Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC hold Enough is enough sign at MLS match
Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC hold Enough is enough sign at MLS match / Rich Lam/GettyImages

The MLS is a beautifully diverse league featuring players from over 80 nations.

With soccer as their vehicle, players have been able to bridge cultural gaps, unite around a shared passion, and produce an exciting version of the game that draws upon an abundance of different styles and strengths.

Unfortunately in an environment naturally fraught with heightened emotions and intense physical exertion, those with a tendency for racial intolerance are apt to rear their heads and stamp their feet.

Movers and shakers of MLS step up

On June 19 (Juneteenth), 2020, Black Players for Change was born. What began as a collection of roughly 70 black MLS players who had simply had enough has grown to include 170+ players, coaches, and staff who have proven to be champions of inclusion and racial equality on a mission to achieve systemic change and hold the league and those in it accountable.

Black Players for Change is a true celebration of black excellence, creating space for those who historically have lacked a voice. The organization is led by a board comprised of eloquent speakers and fierce advocates who took the initiative to convert frustrated group text rants into real change.

Black Players for Change's reach is great, spreading across the United States as its members address the issue of mental health, raise money for the Black Talent Fund, build mini-pitches from Chicago to Portland, and more.

Their most recent achievement, in collaboration with the MLS and MLS Players Association, is an Anti-Discrimination Policy. This includes mandatory intercultural awareness training for MLS players, coaches, and technical staff, and the incorporation of restorative practices that rely on the importance and power of direct human-to-human interaction to address incidents when they occur.

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The Anti-Discrimination Policy is well on its way to making the MLS a more compassionate, understanding, and respectful league made stronger by the unique offerings of every individual within it.