A coalition of leaders from the US soccer industry have partnered with the Common Goal movement to launch the Anti-Racist Project (ARP), an action-based approach to tackling systemic racism in soccer and society.
The initiative, which was officially unveiled on Wednesday, brings together clubs from the three top divisions of US soccer – the Chicago Fire of MLS, Angel City FC of the NWSL and the Oakland Roots of the USL Championship – along with former US international Tony Sanneh and the American Outlaws supporters’ group.
The project aims to fund a toolkit designed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) experts across the US soccer landscape that will see 5,000 coaches, 60,000 young people, and 115 staff trained in over 400 communities in the first year.
Sanneh, who was capped 43 times for the United States and played every minute of the team’s run to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, said the project was motivated by the continual lack of action that follows the repeated condemnation of racism within the sport.
“I remember being chased around the field being called the N-word” Sanneh said. “We have made some progress but not enough. Racism takes many forms. Sometimes it’s an obvious individual manifestation, but it’s also the structural barriers embedded in the game at different levels, but the end result is the same – people of color are excluded from the game.
“We know what the problem is – now is the time to go and fix it.”
Manchester City goalkeeper Zach Steffen was one of several USA internationals to throw their individual support behind the project. “This is a much-needed gamechanger in global football,” he said. “I love that this project is based on tangible action with clear outcomes and that it is truly collective. If we want to eradicate this problem, we need to work together as a team.”
Common Goal, founded by Manchester United’s Juan Mata and Street Football World in 2017, asks those involved in football to commit 1% of their incomes to sporting charities.
Jürgen Klopp, Eric Cantona, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and the Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, are among those who have joined, with the Oakland Roots the first US club to support the campaign, which has raised more than €3.5m (£4.25m) for organizations using football for good in more than 40 countries.
The group is inviting all industry stakeholders interested in becoming a part of the solution to help level the playing field and make soccer more equitable, first in the US and then internationally.