A collection of Black Major League Soccer Players announced the formation of an organization dedicated to sparking change on and off the pitch. In a statement that acknowledged the decision to announce the group’s formation on Juneteenth, the Black Players Coalition of MLS announced that more than 70 players have decided to come on board with the initiative.
— Black Players Coalition of MLS (@BPCMLS) June 19, 2020
The group’s executive director is Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow, who told reporters that the group’s intentions, per ESPN, are “to have a voice in all racial matters as it relates to MLS, increased Black representation in the MLS Players Association and the highest levels of MLS, and to have an impact in Black communities.”
“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,” Morrow told reporters. “And so when we came together on that call, it was the most hopeful thing in one of the darkest weeks of my entire life. And I say that because it was like seeing my brothers and being in a room full of friends. And you know, everyone was there full of love and compassion. And it was really there that we decided that we needed an organization for ourselves.”
Morrow said that the initiative came together following conversations — first over Instagram, then via video calls as more individuals wanted to get involved — with other players. The group now includes more than 70 Black players, and beyond Morrow, the BPC’s board is made up of former D.C. United forward Quincy Amarikwa, Nashville SC defender Jalil Anibaba, Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse, D.C. United goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr., Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis, D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara, Minnesota United defender Ike Opara, Chicago Fire forward C.J. Sapong, and FC Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston.
Amarikwa laid out some of the “measurable changes” for which the BPC will fight, both on and off the pitch, and announced that they have “secured $75,000 in charitable contributions in partnership with the MLS Players Association on behalf of the Coalition to date.” In a statement, Major League Soccer announced its recognition of the group and stated its intention to collaborate on projects moving forward.
“MLS 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. “The League looks forward to continued and longstanding collaborations with the Black Players Coalition of MLS through efforts aimed at developing the game in Black communities, prioritizing diversity, and addressing implicit bias through league-wide cultural and educational initiatives.”