Issues

Major League Soccer Brad Evans

Major League Soccer Releases 2014 Don’t Cross the Line Video

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Last week Major League Soccer and it’s charitable arm MLS Works released the 2014 edition of their “Don’t Cross the Line” PSA video.

It’s…nice. It’s the usual “Don’t Cross the Line” message delivered by league superstars along with fans, which is new for this year.

But it also seems a bit watered down. It seems unspecific. It delivers the league tag line and a lot of feel-good buzz words but it doesn’t call out what “Don’t Cross the Line” means as it has in prior years. Here’s what I mean with language from past years.

2012: “No bullying. No racism. No sexism. No homophobia. No excuses. No exceptions.”

2013: “We’re part of a global community with every age, race, gender, sexuality, or ability. Everyone is welcome. We draw the line at discrimination or harassment of any kind, on and off the field.”

In 2014, that overt anti-harassment message is missing. Does the league find it unnecessary because things are improving? Does the league just think that “Don’t Cross the Line” is so much a part of the culture that defining it further is unnecessary?

But this is a league that just ramped up anti-discrimination and anti-harassment efforts amongst its teams and staff. Posters in locker rooms across the continent tell players, “MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER HAS A ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY FOR HARASSMENT OR DISCRIMINATION OF ANY KIND.” So why isn’t that zero-tolerance message a focus of a video that fans see on television, online, and in stadiums?

This is a real missed opportunity for Major League Soccer. With a young, hip fan base they could really be staking a claim as the most pro-LGBT league in the nation. But just when you think they’re about to do something really ground breaking, they whiff. Individual teams are doing amazing things, but it often seems like the league is just an inch wide of goal, and that’s a shame.

All in all, Major League Soccer, you’ve done good on this newest “Don’t Cross the Line” video. But you’ve also done better.

Major League Soccer Brad Evans

Seattle's Brad Evans in the new "Don't Cross the Line" video

Athlete Ally Dillon Powers

Dillon Powers: Athlete Ally. Short Shorts Model.

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Athlete Ally Dillon PowersColorado Rapids midfielder and 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers was announced as an ambassador in the Athlete Ally program yesterday.

Joining numerous other players in Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, Powers said in the Athlete Ally statement:

…I think sports have always provided a powerful platform from which social issues can be supported and examples can be set. So supporting LGBT equality in sport is important because it can successfully affect social change.

But lest that be his only contribution to the gay community yesterday, Powers was also part of the Rapids’ April Fools Day fun, posing in some retro soccer kits that featured fringe and some very short shorts. The uniforms are a throwback to the Colorado Caribous of the NASL who spend one year in Denver before being moved to Atlanta by an ownership group including Ted Turner.

Enough of the April Fools teasing Colorado; we want to see Dillon Powers sporting this look on the pitch!

 

Bravo, Dillon Powers, on both accounts!

Major League Soccer Anti-Discrimination

Major League Soccer Ramping Up Anti-Discrimination Efforts

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Major League Soccer Anti-DiscriminationMajor League Soccer will be ramping up workplace anti-discrimination and anti-harassment efforts this year according to the New York Attorney General and reported by the Huffington Post.

There will be a few behind the scenes moves made in 2014 in addition to the league’s public Don’t Cross the Line campaign and partnership with the You Can Play Project:

  • A Player Code of Conduct that includes non-discrimination and anti-harassment language will be posted both in home and visitors’ locker rooms.
  • Training for players will be expanded. (Hopefully Wade Davis at You Can Play gets to see lots of MLS cities.)
  • There will be a lead person at Major League Soccer’s central office for handling harassment and discrimination complaints.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in his statement:

I applaud Major League Soccer for working cooperatively with us to promote a culture of inclusion. Together, we are sending a powerful message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in any form in the world of major league sports.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office has previously worked with Major League Baseball and the National Football League on anti-discrimination efforts.

 

Supporters Groups: Say “You Can Play” in 2014

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Dozens of supporters groups have expressed their support for the LGBT community since this site started. And Major League Soccer has partnered with the You Can Play Project since last season.

Now it’s time to combine those two things as we issue a challenge to soccer supporters groups all throughout 2014: Make the next great You Can Play video.

DC United, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Seattle Reign, and Toronto FC have all made videos. And now, whether your support MLS, NWSL, NASL, USL, a national team, or any other team or league, it’s your turn to show support video style. Check out what some San Jose Sharks fans made:

We’ll be looking for your videos all throughout the year, and when the playoffs come this fall we’ll be picking a top video from all of the submissions we see. Videos will receive ratings in three areas:

  1. How well it spreads the “You Can Play” message
  2. How well it shows off your supporters group
  3. Overall video quality

Need advice or help with your video’s messaging? Email us at gay4soccer@gmail.com and we can talk about ideas. You can share final videos via methods like Google Drive or Dropbox or any other medium that works for you. Just let us know where it is and we’ll share it with the world. You have until October 31.

We hope many supporters groups can take part in this exciting project. Because if you can chant, you can chant. If you can cheer, you can cheer. And if you can play, you can play.

Good luck!

February 15, 2013

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February 15, 2013 is a day I will always remember. Robbie Rogers came out publicly as a gay man, was embraced by the soccer community, and was on his way to making professional sports history.


I remember sitting at the desk in my office, very much ready for the weekend to begin in six or so hours. Then I saw the tweet: “Just getting some sh*t off my chest” along with a link to therobbierogers.com.

Now I feel like I need to say that I don’t make presumptions about any player’s sexuality. But at the same time as I moved my mouse pointer to that link a part of me wondered, “Is this it? Is this going to be an American soccer player coming out of the closet while still in the prime of his career?” It truly was a gut feeling based on nothing whatsoever.

I read the post. I read it again. And again. I wanted to make sure what I was reading was exactly what I thought it was. Even then, a part of me wasn’t sure. If you go back and look at the first versions of posts to the site that day, they all said “appears to have come out.” Part of my brain still thought it was too good to be true, although the posting was soon confirmed as legitimate.

But yeah, there was also a part of me that was filled with nothing short of giddy excitement. It’s funny because my company had just hired someone for my department a week before and she was in the office to be trained by me. Who knows what she thought of me nervously pacing around with my phone in my hand. I texted my best friend. I sent messages to the other out soccer players I knew of in North Carolina, in Montreal, and in Sweden. It’s so odd how I remember exactly what I did one year ago.

Then I set up a Tweetdeck search. What would the reaction be? Would people care? Would people be supportive?

I was nothing short of overwhelmed. The love from teammates, other players, and so many fans had me beaming all day long. That reaction is so much of what made the day so special for me. Our community coming together to virtually wrap our arms around one of our own, letting him know he is loved and that whatever path he would choose to go down, we all had his back.

That’s why I made the video above. I wanted some sort of memento of February 15, 2013. Something to remember the brave step Robbie Rogers took and the way a world reacted. And how proud I felt that day to be a fan of American soccer.

Robbie Rogers wasn’t the first soccer player to come out, and he certainly won’t be the last. And I know that every time we have another day like February 15, 2013, soccer players and fans from around our soccer community will envelop that next out player with our love.

gay_violence_Ukraine_Euro2012

U.S. Soccer Schedules Friendly in Ukraine

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Federation sends diverse team to nation with recent history of neo-Nazi issues in fan base

Last week U.S. Soccer quietly announced that the Men’s National Team will play Ukraine in a friendly March 5 as part of its preparations for the 2014 World Cup. It wasn’t posted to social media; it was just slipped onto the website.

The issue with this is that the nation of Ukraine has had a recent history of racism, neo-Nazism, and gay bashing within its national team fan base and in the nation at large.

Let’s start with LGBT issues, where things got very heated in the months ahead of the Euro 2012 tournament that was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Gay pride in Kiev had to be cancelled in May 2012 when right-wing soccer hooligans attacked event organizers soon before it was set to begin. Police flat-out told them they would not put officers in harm’s way to protect the LGBT community.

Amnesty International advised LGBT persons and other minorities from travelling to Ukraine for Euro matches:

Not only will they have to deal with violent football hooligans who deliberately target gay people and people of ethnic minorities, they will also face an extremely corrupt police force who have a track record of beating and mistreating people because of their sexual orientation.

read more…

Portland Timbers Pride Tifo

Portland Timbers and Thorns Endorse Marriage Equality

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Portland Timbers Pride TifoThe Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns have become the first professional sports teams in the nation to endorse a marriage equality ballot measure.

Oregon United for Marriage along with other groups are currently in the process of collecting the voter signatures needed to put marriage equality on the November 2014 ballot.

The Timbers and Thorns organization announced the endorsement with a statement from owner Merritt Paulson: “We are proud to support Oregon United for Marriage and its efforts to secure the freedom to marry for all Oregonians next November.” They also released the following video on the Oregon United for Marriage YouTube page:

The Chicago Fire currently work with Equality Illinois, who are working through the legislature for marriage equality. Adidas America joined with Oregon United for Marriage this week as well.

You can sign onto a message thanking the Timbers, Thorns, and NBA’s Trailblazers on the Oregon United for Marriage website.

Tasha Kai USOC

USOC Adds Sexual Orientation to Non-Discrimination Policy

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Tasha Kai USOC

Tasha Kai shows off her 2008 gold medal

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) announced Friday that its board voted to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.

The USOC was under a great deal of pressure from both athletes and lawmakers to protect gay and lesbian athletes ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where laws are in place that punish what is viewed as pro-gay propaganda. The amended bylaw reads:

The USOC is committed to honesty and integrity as the cornerstone of our activities. In turn, the USOC expects you to conduct yourself in an ethical and legal manner as a representative of the USOC. This requires you to:

 

* Respect the rights of all individuals to fair treatment and equal opportunity, free from discrimination or harassment of any type, including, without limitation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or otherwise.

While openly stating opposition to the law, the USOC states that they will not advocate for its changing. They are inquiring with the International Olympic Committee about how IOC rules against political speech affect athletes who have already been vocal about the laws in place in Russia. The IOC does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its non-discrimination policies.

Gay and lesbian soccer players from Robbie Rogers to Tasha Kai and from Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach have represented the United States at the past few Olympic games.

You Can Play Brown University

You Can Play Goes Back to School with the Ivy League

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You Can Play Brown UniversityThe You Can Play Project has gone back to school with new videos from Ivy League schools Brown University and Dartmouth College.

The soccer programs from each school is represented in the two videos, along with a myriad of other sports programs.

Brown and Dartmouth are two of our nation’s oldest institutions of higher learning, and it’s great to see their student athletes taking a stand on and off the field as they lead the way in the Ivy League.

Here’s the video from Dartmouth released early in September:

And here’s Brown’s video that came out just last week:

Here’s to many more great You Can Play videos from collegiate and pro teams in the coming year!

Robbie Rogers Olympics

Robbie Rogers Advocates Against Winter Olympics Boycott

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Robbie Rogers OlympicsAs a former Olympian himself, Robbie Rogers has gotten a lot of questions about calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi after Russian crackdowns on the LGBT community. To answer everyone at once, he has penned a column for USA Today about the issue.

…I couldn’t imagine supporting a boycott of the Sochi Olympics that would deny any fellow athletes the opportunity to do what I did then: to compete against the world’s best, to fulfill the dream of a lifetime, to set an example for the world, to make our friends, families, and country proud of our accomplishments. I also couldn’t imagine telling an athlete not to boycott if that’s what he or she thinks is best.

Beyond his statements about Sochi, Rogers talks about the Galaxy’s recent trip to Miami for the International Champions Cup tournament. At one of their meals as a team, the subject of his sexuality came up: what it’s like to date guys and what it’s like to go to a gay bar. He compares that moment to what it will be like for out athletes and allies to go to Russia and have an opportunity to expose folks there to some exceptional members of the world LGBT community and have conversations.

You can read Robbie Rogers’ complete column at the USA Today website.

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