I remember my excitement three years ago when MLS announced it would be starting “Don’t Cross the Line,” aimed at racism, sexism, and homophobia in soccer. For another year now, words such as that are absent from the campaigns annual public service announcement.
Come on now, MLS, how are people supposed to not cross the proverbial line when you don’t tell them what that line is?
Things in America may not be as bad as elsewhere in the world, but the core issues that were front and center in Don’t Cross the Line still need to be addressed, not watered down to a bunch of feel-good sentiments set to a catchy tune.
Here are Landon Donovan’s words in the first ad in 2012: “No bullying, no racism, no sexism, no homophobia. No excuses, no exceptions.” Where is the language like that now? Did you get rid of it because the Revolution and Dynamo got tired of people pointing out that MLS had an anti-sexism messages while they trotted out cheerleaders in skin-tight outfits?
2013 was a bit less explicit but still had Dwayne De Rosario stating, “We draw the line at discrimination or harassment of any kind, on and off the field.” The watering down continued in 2014 with the strongest statement being Kyle Beckerman’s “We don’t discriminate against anyone, ever.” 2015? A string of happy slappy buzz words.
MLS, you do have homophobia issues. In most matches I’m watching every weekend, fans are chanting a word deemed inappropriate by US Soccer President Sunil Gulati and even the Mexican government says normalizes homophobic rage. And yet you’re afraid to use the word “homophobia” in an ad.
(And as an aside, when’s the last time the league or a club did anything visible as part of their partnership with the You Can Play Project?)
Why not stand up and be a leader against racism by calling it out explicitly? Take the charge ahead of other leagues in a confederation where you send your players to be berated by monkey sounds.
And yes, make your teams take a look at their use of women in club promotions.
Please Major League Soccer, make me excited by your Don’t Cross the Line campaign again, and of the real work you can do to address soccer’s social issues. We can be the leaders. We can be the best.
The Portland NetRippers have been selected to host the 2016 IGLFA World Championships, sometimes referred to colloquially as the “Gay World Cup.”
The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association made the Portland pick over east coast club the New York Ramblers. The IGLFA now holds world championships every other year, alternating between a standalone tournament and one coordinated with the Gay Games.
A second tournament in a row for the USA is a bit of a risk; the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland only attracted 19 teams while the Cologne games drew 80. Even IGLFA co-president Kimberly Hadley told GoLocalPDX.com, “What’s Portland to someone who lives in Europe?” But Portland is home to LGBT-friendly Nike and LGBT-friendly professional clubs in the Thorns and Timbers, and those should be draws to the Pacific Northwest.
Matches will be held on the banks of the Columbia River in Portland’s Delta Park, and the Oregon Sports Authority has made a financial commitment to complete renovations on the complex.
Congratulations to Portland and the NetRippers on their “gay world cup” host selection!
In another classic video defenders Justin Davis, Kevin Venegas, and and Brent Kallman along with goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt play some beach volleyball in the style of Top Gun’s now-classic moment.
This isn’t just some volleyball fun set to a Kenny Loggins soundtrack. Minnesota United took the time to recreate the scene’s most famous shots, timed to when they happened in the movie. There are the ball spins (with an NASL ball); grunts, screams, and woos; and the sweaty man flesh making contact with sweaty man flesh.
If the expansion rumors are true, Minnesota United are going to be a very welcome and much deserving addition to Major League Soccer.
“Playing with the Boys,” indeed.
Most Major League Soccer teams revealed kits as part of MLS Jersey Week 2015. So now that we’ve seen all of the unveilings and most kits on the field, it’s time for some reviews. Overall, this year was definitely a departure from the overall yawn-inducing offerings of last year, so while there are still misses here and there at least this year there was more of an attempt to be different and interesting. We reviewed Eastern Conference jerseys earlier this week.
After all of the white jerseys coming out of the east, maybe this isn’t the best one to start with. At least Vancouver is making some sort of attempt to add some visual interest rather than just some white on white detail. I kinda dig the mountains and water look that they’re going for, but there’s something small that’s bothering me about it. Maybe it needs the same detail coming up from the bottom. Maybe it needs to be place a little bit lower; I don’t know. But it just seems like the design sits oddly on top of the pectoral region. read more…
Most Major League Soccer teams revealed kits as part of MLS Jersey Week 2015. So now that we’ve seen all of the unveilings and most kits on the field, it’s time for some reviews. Overall, this year was definitely a departure from the overall yawn-inducing offerings of last year, so while there are still misses here and there at least this year there was more of an attempt to be different and interesting.
NYCFC made up for a plain all-Manchester City blue jersey with something that has been sorely missing in MLS: a slick, black away kit. As usual the symbolism is a bit overdone in the design. Why do the diagonal stripes have to represent something? They just look good. And the blue and orange trim add a great deal to the look with just a little even though orange says “Mets” to me more than it does “Yankees.” Read more…
Norma Rae. The Molly Maguires. Last Exit to Springfield. There are a few examples of labor relations at the center of popular culture. But here at G4S, we’re going to look at the MLS labor talks through the lens of Razzie-winning movie turned Tony-winning musical Newsies.
Now if you’re not familiar with Newsies, first…whaaaAAAaaa? Second, Newsies is based on the true story of the 1899 New York Newsboys Strike when thousands of youth protested price hikes from newspapers run by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randoph Hearst. The strike shut down the Brooklyn Bridge halting traffic and preventing newspaper distribution to New England. It didn’t result in a lowering of prices, but the papers agreed to buy back unsold copies.
Late last week the 2015 Ballot for the National Soccer Hall of Fame was released, and Natasha Kai became the first out LGBT player eligible for the list.
Kai earned eligibility with her 67 National Team caps between 2006 and 2011. Players must be retired for between 3 and 10 years to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Natasha Kai was out for her entire professional career and for much of her time with the US Women’s National Team, having spoken to NBC prior to her appearance at the 2008 Olympics about issues with her girlfriend affecting her performance.
Kai played for both Sky Blue FC and the Philadelphia Independence of Women’s Professional Soccer. She was selected by Washington in the inaugural NWSL supplemental draft, but was injured and never played for the Spirit. Since soccer retirement, she has played for the US National Women’s Rugby Sevens Team.
The lack of Robbie Rogers on the roster has been called the biggest snub of this January Camp for the USMNT, but Jurgen Klinsmann says the camp strategy left Rogers out and that there is an open door.
Speculation was high that this January Camp was prime time for Rogers to rejoin the squad after a stellar season at his new position of left back. Teammates and pundits both called a post-transformation Rogers “National Team ready.”
At the same time, Robbie Rogers alluded to a past coach and mentor in his memoir Coming Out to Play whose description fit Jurgen Klinsmann. While describing the numerous well-wishers he heard from after coming out, Rogers also mentions a coach and mentor he hadn’t heard from at all, even after his reaching out.
Some worried that what appeared to be a personal rift meant that Rogers may not get a much-deserved National Team opportunity.
According to MLSSoccer.com, it’s the Camp’s focus on young talent that kept Rogers out of contention this time around. Looking ahead to both the 2015 Gold Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, there are nearly a dozen under-23 players in Carson right now.
According to Klinsmann, “If it was purely senior guys, Robbie would be in that camp.”
He also elaborated his youth strategy with an eye on Rogers’ future: “And that’s why some players were left out, and Robbie was one of them. But there’s always definitely an open door.”
If you thought an openly gay athlete could have no more surprises, pick up a copy of Robbie Rogers’ memoir Coming Out to Play this week and prepare to be surprised.
Starting early on in the opening chapters, Rogers tells a very personal story. This is not just the “athlete in the closet” story that one might expect, but it’s also a portrait of his family and their ups and downs throughout his young life. It’s also the story of a rising soccer star beyond the issues of his sexuality and the decisions that a player viewed as a young phenomenon must make. When it comes to this time in his life I would have been interested in hearing more about his time at the University of Maryland and playing with other current MLS stars like Maurice Edu and Graham Zusi.
Ultimately this is a story of a man who spent his life masking his sexuality and the process he took to reveal his whole self to the world. There are many stories about Rogers self-censoring his language, monitoring his behavior with friends and family, and doing with women what his peers expected him to be doing with women. “Heartbreaking” doesn’t begin to describe some of these moments, and anyone who has been in the closet will be able to identify with much of what Rogers went through.
Robbie Rogers was once again named to the Major League Soccer Team of the Week after a great performance against Dallas, stoking the fire that he deserves a callup to the US Men’s National Team.
Team Captain Robbie Keane gave a glowing assessment of Rogers’ move to a defensive position to LAGalaxy.com following the team’s weekend victory over FC Dallas:
He’s a player who’s grown in stature in that position. I think you’re looking at probably the best left back in the league. Certainly no question about that.
If (U.S. national team coach Jurgen) Klinsmann is watching the games no question he should be looked at. He’s been brilliant. That’s how much he’s come on.
Schedule-wise it’s difficult seeing when Rogers would join the National Team again, with the next pair of stateside matches coming so close to the MLS playoffs. Bruce Arena will be reticent to let too many of his players leave LA when there very well could be a Supporters Shield and prime playoff position on the line.
Rogers hasn’t had a National Team cap since 2011. It was a year that included him being a part of Klinsmann’s first roster and scoring a goal against Mexico in that friendly match. His international resume also includes an appearance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
All things considered maybe that headline should read, “Robbie Rogers, National Team Ready.”