The program will implement several policies across the youth level aiming to promote inclusivity
MLS NEXT, the league’s recently-created series of youth leagues, has announced a series of initiatives aimed at combating racism and discrimination in youth soccer.
These initiatives include the introduction of an Equity Action Committee (EAC) that includes players, coaches and directors across the boys and girls soccer landscape.
In addition, the league will provide educational sessions and guided discussions in an effort to prevent discrimination of any form at youth level.
What was said?
“We are committed to creating lasting change in youth soccer and continuing to build a platform that does not tolerate racism or other discriminatory language or behavior in any context,” said Fred Lipka, MLS NEXT Technical Director.
“MLS NEXT will reach tens of thousands of young athletes during a critical time in their life and educating all participants on the value of diversity from the moment they enter our platform is a top priority as we continue to build the sport for a new North America.”
What will MLS NEXT do to combat discrimination?
The EAC, which includes nine members headlined by Toronto FC star and Black Players for Change executive board member Justin Morrow, includes men and women across the youth game, not just at MLS-affiliated clubs.
The league is set to hold a series of anti-racism seminars with the aim of implementing inclusive principles throughout the youth game, while MLS NEXT will also work closely with Girls Academy to ensure that these principles are not just limited to the boys game.
Diversity in club leadership has been added as an admission criterion for MLS NEXT expansion clubs and the league says it is looking to help coaches from underrepresented backgrounds get their start with admission into the Elite Formation Coaching License program.
What is MLS NEXT?
MLS Next is the league’s new youth soccer initiative introduced in 2020 and serves as the successor to the now-defunct U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
The system includes clubs from the U13 all the way to the U19 age groups and features 118 clubs, 521 teams and over 11,000 players across the U.S. and Canada.