Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Union announced a partnership with the You Can Play Project on Wednesday, demonstrating the league’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“The diversity found in our League has always been a point of pride for us,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Our MLS WORKS ‘Don’t Cross the Line’ initiative is a strong statement that we are a league that stands against discrimination. We are proud to partner with You Can Play to ensure that all of our fans and players know that MLS is committed to providing a safe environment where everyone is treated equally, and with dignity and respect.”
“The MLS Players Union is proud to formalize a partnership with You Can Play,” said Bob Foose, Executive Director of the Union. “Our players strongly believe that, as the world’s most popular game, soccer should be open to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. We as a Union are committed to expanding our outreach to ensure that all players and fans feel welcome in MLS as we continue to expand our dedicated and diverse fan base.”
“This partnership with MLS and the MLS Players Union confirms the message that MLS will not tolerate discrimination of any kind inside the locker rooms, on the field or in the stands,” said You Can Play President Patrick Burke. “We will be able to provide vital resources directly to the players, while also ensuring that every soccer fan feels welcome to attend MLS events.”
You Can Play will build upon MLS’ existing anti-discrimination education and training resources, and players will have the ability to seek counseling or ask questions confidentially, providing professional athletes with a resource that is often lacking.
MLS joins the National Hockey League as the second major male professional sports league to guarantee LGBT inclusion in all aspects of their sport through the work of You Can Play.
“As MLS players, we believe that our clubs are strongest when everyone feels safe and included in the locker room,” said Todd Dunivant, LA Galaxy defender and member of the Union’s Executive Board. “In addition, we love our fans and want all of them to feel safe in our stands. We are excited to work with You Can Play to ensure that both our locker rooms and our stadiums are welcoming to the LGBT community.”