Time to End Soccer’s Silence on “Bathroom Bills”
In Texas this week, debate begins on the latest of conservative legislators’ “bathroom bills.” Activists, entertainers, and sports leagues have spoken out against it while soccer has remained silent.
One would have thought states had learned from the HB2 fiasco in North Carolina last year. America’s first statewide “bathroom bill” has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in business being lost including from the relocation of sports events. Seven national NCAA events were moved out of North Carolina during the 2016-2017 school year, including the 2016 Women’s College Cup. The ACC pulled their 2016 football championship from the Carolina Panthers’ stadium. The 2017 NBA All-Star Game was moved from Charlotte to New Orleans.
Warnings from the sports world are now ringing out about Texas’ SB6:
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy: “We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver: “But what we have stated is, our values are league-wide values in terms of equality and inclusion, that is paramount to this league and all of the members of the NBA family. Those jurisdictions that are considering legislation that is similar to HB2, are on notice that that is an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star game.”
The US Soccer Federation, Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, and the teams in states affected by anti-transgender legislation have all been disappointingly silent. It’s time for them all to stand up for equality, for what’s right, for their fans. Armbands and flags have been nice gestures but they aren’t enough. Our community needs them with us in the fight when our rights are threatened.
Speaking up for transgender rights wouldn’t be completely new for American soccer. The New England Revolution was among the Boston-area teams that supported anti-discrimination legislation in their commonwealth.
Now it’s time for US Soccer, Major League Soccer, and the National Women’s Soccer League to speak up. No events. No expansion. Not for states that demonize a community under a false guise of safety. This week we’ll be actively asking the federation, leagues, teams, and players to speak out.