FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 file photo, Toronto FC's Justin Morrow plays against the Columbus Crew during an MLS Eastern Conference championship soccer match in Columbus, Ohio. Black Players for Change, a group of Major League Soccer players formed to confront racial injustice, has collectively earned the league's Humanitarian of the Year award, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Black Players for Change is a collective of some 170 players and league staff. It was founded by Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

Black Players for Change group wins MLS Humanitarian award

Black Players for Change group wins MLS Humanitarian award

Black Players for Change, a group formed by Major League Soccer players to confront racial injustice, has earned the league’s Humanitarian of the Year award.

The group, which came together following the death of George Floyd, set out to create positive change within MLS and in local communities. Among its accomplishments was an extensive get-out-the-vote effort and the construction of a mini-pitch for underserved youth in New Jersey.

Black Players for Change involves 170 players and league staff.

“We’ve had some successes, we’re still fighting some battles, and we’ll continue to fight those battles,” said Toronto defender Justin Morrow, the group’s founder. “We’re making sure that we will not go away and this organization will be here for future generations.”

Black Players for Change has three goals: to give black players a voice in the league; to encourage black representation in the players’ association and higher levels of MLS; and to help local communities.

Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse, Chicago’s CJ Sapong, Nashville’s Jalil Anibaba and Philadelphia’s Ray Gaddis are among the players involved. In recognition of the group’s efforts, MLS WORKS will donate $5,000 to the organization.

In his State of the League address Tuesday, Commissioner Don Garber recalled how the group came together at the start of the MLS is Back tournament. Many players stood silent for several minutes, some with fists raised, reflecting the span of time that a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“That, I think, was one of the special moments in the history of our league. It was incredibly moving for all of us,” Garber said. “Earlier today we announced that the Black Players for Change were the recipients of the Humanitarians of the Year award. It’s a really well-deserved recognition for their collective efforts to bring awareness to racial and social justice issues, both in our league and our sport and throughout our society.”

The group partnered with the LeBron James-led non-profit More Than A Vote to encourage communities of colour to vote, while also encouraging fellow players to register. That effort was wildly successful, with 95% per cent registration among the league’s eligible players.

Black Players for Change also dedicated it’s first mini-pitch in Newark. In a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the group plans to install 12 mini-pitches in Black communities across the country to encourage kids to play soccer.

“I think what we all definitely feel is a sense of confidence, hope and pride in the fact that we’ve been able to kind of establish a road to a better tomorrow,” Anibaba said. “And that’s not just based on hope, it’s based on real things. That’s based on real relationships that we’ve been able to forge with the league, with the commissioner, with obviously ourselves as the BPC, the board, the Black player pool and the entire player pool.”

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Anne M. Peterson, The Associated Press

soccer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An ice sculpture of a bee with a timely message was created near the Ross Street Patio. It’s party of a Downtown Business Association initiative to draw more people downtown to support local businesses. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Ice sculptures created to draw more people to downtown Red Deer

Three sculptures can be seem at various venues

(Black Press file photo)
Police seeking suspects in Bowden armed robbery

Man was beaten and robbed of his wallet

Many students and staff at St. Joseph High School are in COVID-19 quarantine. (File photo by Advocate staff)
COVID cases: Red Deer school reverts back to at-home learning

Majority of students under COVID-19 quarantine

Red Deer RCMP say Alexander King was last seen about a month ago. (Contributed)
Red Deer teen reported missing

RCMP ask for public’s assistance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says it’s not appropriate for former… Continue reading

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Red Fraggle, one of Jim Henson Company’s Fraggle Rock characers, is shown at Time To Play Holiday Show, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, in New York. The Jim Henson Company says production has officially started in Calgary on a reboot of the original 1980s children’s puppet series, which was filmed in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Lennihan
‘Fraggle Rock’ children’s puppet series reboot starts production in Calgary

A spokesperson says the new series will stream on Apple TV plus

pe
Too many new pet owners, not enough vets make getting animal care a problem

CALGARY — Dr. Liz Ruelle says it was a difficult decision to… Continue reading

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP officer in Alberta charged with off-duty sexual assault in Edmonton

EDMONTON — Alberta’s police watchdog says an RCMP officer has been charged… Continue reading

Canada’s 29th Governor General Julie Payette looks on alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Senate chamber during her installation ceremony, in Ottawa on Monday, October 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says GG vetting process needs improvement after Payette resigns

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s admission Friday that he might have… Continue reading

NDP member of Parliament Lindsay Mathyssen speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP warns of long delays in equal pay for women in federal pay equity rules

OTTAWA — The federal New Democrats say new rules to close a… Continue reading

President Joe Biden waves as he departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. Less than a week after the economic gut punch of cancelling Keystone XL, Canada is bracing for more bad news today from the White House. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Patrick Semansky
U.S. president to sign executive orders enacting stringent new Buy American regimen

WASHINGTON — Less than a week after the economic gut punch of… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

A 37-year-old man from Maskwacis has died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital Tuesday December 15, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian provinces push back vaccination plans as Pfizer deliveries grind to a halt

Some Canadian health-care workers are being told they’ll have to wait longer… Continue reading

Most Read