With Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow leading the way, more than 70 black players launched a coalition Friday aimed at addressing systemic racism in Major League Soccer and its surrounding communities.
The Black Players Coalition is separate from MLS, but the league recognizes it as an official body. The group said it plans to lobby for "implicit bias training, cultural education courses, and diversification hiring practices."
It also received a $75,000 contribution from the Major League Soccer Players Association to kick-start the movement.
"We've already come to the table with Major League Soccer and had conversations with them about things that we'd like to see changed," Morrow said, according to The Associated Press' Anne M. Peterson. “We want to see action: These slogans, these statements are no longer enough.
"We want real change. So what is that going to look like in Major League Soccer? What is that going to look like in our communities? And how are we going about that?"
The Chicago Fire's CJ Sapong, FC Cincinnati's Kendall Waston, New York City FC's Sean Johnson, D.C. United's Bill Hamid, and the Colorado Rapids' Kei Kamara are among the players who joined the coalition.
It was announced on June 19, also known as Junteeenth, a day that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the United States.
The death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody in Minneapolis, compelled Morrow and his black peers to take action.
"When we came together on that call, it was the most hopeful thing in one of the darkest weeks of my entire life," Morrow added.
MLS is returning July 8 with a round-robin tournament in Orlando. The league has been on hiatus for three months due the coronavirus pandemic.