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MLS players establish coalition to conquer racism in soccer

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Tigres v Toronto FC - CONCACAF Champions League - Universitario stadium, San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico - March 13, 2018 - Justin Morrow of Toronto FC and Alberto Acosta of Tigres in action. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/File Photo

(Reuters) - A group of more than 70 Major League Soccer (MLS) players have formed a new coalition that was unveiled on Friday with the aim of addressing racial inequalities in the U.S.-based league and standing with those who fight racism in the sport.

The Black Players Coalition of MLS, which is being headed up by Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow, was announced to coincide with the Juneteenth holiday marking the abolition of slavery in the United States.

“We pledge to help bridge the racial equality gap that exists in our league by lobbying for initiatives like implicit bias training, cultural education courses, and diversification hiring practices,” the group said in a statement.

“Beyond addressing these overlooked systemic issues around soccer in this country, the BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have prevented Black people from having an equitable stake in society.”

The standalone organization, which has an 11-player board, comes at a time when many athletes across various sports are speaking up and using their platform amid nationwide protests over police brutality and last month’s death of George Floyd.

MLS said in a statement it proudly recognizes and supports the Black Players Coalition of MLS and looks forward to working with the group on efforts aimed at developing the game in Black communities, prioritizing diversity, and addressing implicit bias through league-wide initiatives.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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