NEW YORK, N.Y. – Major League Soccer announced today the launch of Soccer For All Week (May 12-23). The League-wide initiative reinforces the collective commitment to drive positive social change, foster more inclusive and equitable communities, and support an end to discrimination. Introduced in 2018 through MLS WORKS, the League's social responsibility platform, Soccer For All signifies that everyone is welcome.
MLS and its clubs conduct year-long initiatives that provide inclusive opportunities in-stadium and for members of the local community including, mini-pitch installs, youth soccer programming, equipment donations, first-team experiences for individuals with and without intellectual and physical disabilities and sensory rooms in addition to amplifying a variety of commemorative awareness months and moments including Black History Month, Juneteenth, Women's History Month, Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month. Among some of the upcoming initiatives taking place during Soccer For All Week:
· Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month: This month, MLS WORKS will collaborate with the Asians in MLS, the League's Asian & Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group (ERG), and Extratime presented by AT&T 5G to speak with Real Salt Lake's Bobby Wood to shine a light on important issues touching the API community. The conversation is the next iteration of the "Soccer For All Speaker Series," a season-long program conducted by MLS WORKS in partnership with the League's ERGs to amplify inclusive voices and perspectives. The full podcast will be available on Thursday, May 19 at MLSsoccer.com.
· LGBTQ+ Pride Month: To commemorate LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June, MLS Clubs will integrate adidas Pride pre-match tops during matches, which fans will have an opportunity to purchase beginning Sunday, May 15 at MLSstore.com and at stadium retail locations. MLS will also partner with Athlete Ally, an organization supporting equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, to support Playing for Pride - a fundraising campaign that brings together athletes, teams, and Leagues to support Athlete Ally's mission of making sports inclusive for the LGBTQI+ community. Visit MLS' Playing for Pride page to learn more and donate. In addition, MLS clubs will kick off local activations including participation in Pride marches, educational trainings and in-stadium LGBTQ+ Pride nights during Soccer For All Week, throughout June and the rest of the year. The League will also make donations to Athlete Ally as well as You Can Play, an organization that strives to ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches and fans.
Additional ways MLS and our partners are supporting Soccer For All Week include:
· MLS, P&G and Hispanic Star today announced the Capitanes del Futuro program. As part of a shared commitment to advance Hispanic progress in the United States, MLS and P&G are joining forces with Hispanic Star to create a comprehensive, goodwill program to develop the next generation of Hispanic business leaders. Through deeper partnerships with Hispanic Star and MLS Clubs, MLS and P&G, the Capitanes del Futuro program will provide participating youth with exclusive in-person and digital experiences that connect them to role models, expose them to Hispanic leaders and potential career paths, and deliver enrichment opportunities, hands-on experience and access to higher education opportunities, all while nurturing Hispanic values critical for personal effectiveness and long-term success. Taking place in partnership with six (6) MLS clubs (Inter Miami CF, New England Revolution, New York City FC, LA Galaxy, FC Cincinnati and Austin FC), the inaugural phase of this multi-year program will culminate during the League's Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
· In partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, MLS and its clubs have been creating Safe Places to Play mini-pitches in MLS communities since 2015. Collectively, the two organizations have created 247 mini-pitches across the country and are working to install 59 more - that's more than 300 new places to play soccer nationwide! To find the nearest mini-pitch location to you, visit ussoccerfoundation.org/map.
Clubs will support Soccer For All Week by supporting various social causes for an assortment of programming. A sampling of club activations:
· The Chicago Fire Foundation will bring together over 1,200 children from 50 Chicago Public Schools who participate in the Club's P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) program for an entire day of play, teamwork, and fun. P.L.A.Y.S. is committed to enhancing the academic performance and development of key social and emotional skills of elementary school students through a sports-based curriculum in Chicago neighborhoods. Since the program's inception in 2013, more than 200,000 hours of soccer has been played by 4,000 girls and boys in third through fifth grade.
· Today, LA Galaxy will host 15-year-old Ukrainian refugee and soccer fan, Matvei, at a training session where he will sign a one-day mock-up contract and experience what it's like to be a professional soccer player. Additionally, the club will surprise students of Esther Lindstrom Elementary School in Lakewood, CA with a pop-up soccer clinic on Monday, May 16 and gift each student tickets to their home match on Sunday, May 22.
· Nashville SC hosted its first Asian and Pacific Islander Night at GEODIS Park, the club's recently inaugurated home, on Sunday, May 8. As part of the celebration, the club honored API Middle Tennessee and member Joseph Gutierrez as Hero of the Match. In addition to celebrating API heritage, Nashville SC will launch its Special Olympics Unified Team by hosting a signing day at the stadium, before recognizing their new Special Olympics Unified Team as well as the Tennessee State Girls Soccer Champions on the club's official Soccer For All night on Saturday, May 21.
· New England Revolution, in partnership with MLS, will release a podcast that spotlights the club's ongoing partnership with the New England Amputee Soccer team. The Revolution's long-term support of the team includes equipment donations and funding for team expenses including training field usage, as well as outfitting the amputee team with customized uniforms and cleats.
· Seattle Sounders FC will host the annual RAVE Foundation Gala with an emphasis on defending the right to play through the 26 by 2026 campaign, which aims to build 26 small soccer fields in communities throughout Washington State by the year 2026. The team will also amplify women in soccer and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX and girls soccer at its match on Sunday, May 15. Pre-match, there will be a "Pro Sports Career Panel" for girls, as well as a Washington State Legends of Soccer activation to educate fans about their milestones and highlight local legends. Furthermore, the team will wear commemorative jersey patches, with match-worn jerseys being auctioned off to support RAVE Foundation.
· Several clubs across the League will participate in various Special Olympics Unified Sports® soccer activations, including signing days, practices and scrimmages. The Special Olympics Unified Sports® Soccer Exchange Program is a collaboration between Major League Soccer, ESPN and Special Olympics to promote an environment of social inclusion, uniting individuals with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) as members of one team. Back in person this summer as part of All-Star Week festivities, MLS WORKS, ESPN and Coca-Cola will host the annual Special Olympics Unified All-Star Game in Minnesota.
Soccer For All content will be featured on broadcast, in-stadium and on League and club social and digital channels. To join the conversation, fans can use #SoccerForAll on social media and follow @MLSWORKS on Twitter and Instagram to see how clubs are activating in the community. Fans are also encouraged to share the content using #SoccerForAll and upload their photos and videos at SoccerForAll.com for a chance to be featured in next year's campaign.
For more information on Soccer For All, and other MLS WORKS initiatives, visit MLSsoccer.com/mlsworks. Additional details on how MLS is celebrating API Heritage Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month and other commemorative months, will be available on MLSsoccer.com.
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Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer – celebrating its 27th season in 2022 – features 29 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, including 2022 expansion team Charlotte FC and St. Louis City SC, which debuts in 2023. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.