Black Players for Change grateful for support

Justin Morrow: “Our white team-mates throughout the league have been very supportive of us. In the coming months you will see us fighting side-by-side with our white team-mates to make the change we want to see”

Last Updated: 11/07/20 9:51pm

Columbus Crew players were among those taking a stand in midweek

Columbus Crew players were among those taking a stand in midweek

Columbus Crew players were among those taking a stand in midweek

White players in Major League Soccer stand with their black team-mates in the fight for racial equality, says Toronto FC defender and Black Players for Change executive director Justin Morrow.

Formed last month following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Black Players for Change consists of almost 200 black MLS players, who are championing systemic change to tackle racism and inequality both inside and outside of the league.

In a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, players across MLS knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds – marking the amount of time a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck – before Wednesday’s MLS is Back Tournament opener in Orlando.

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Players raised their right fists and took a knee before the MLS is Back Tournament opener, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Players raised their right fists and took a knee before the MLS is Back Tournament opener, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Morrow says further initiatives are planned where white players will stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with their black team-mates.

“Our white team-mates throughout the league have been very supportive of us,” Morrow told Sky Sports News.

“They have been looking for ways to get involved and help lift up our voices as well.

“We’ve seen on social media a lot of players have had individual conversations with their team-mates and they cannot wait till the day we have initiatives developed where we can be fighting this battle together.

“In the coming months you will see us fighting side-by-side with our white team-mates to make the change we want to see.”

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Thierry Henry paid tribute to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling for the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of Montreal Impact’s game against New England Revolution in the ‘MLS is Back’ tournament

Thierry Henry paid tribute to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling for the first eight minutes and 46 seconds of Montreal Impact’s game against New England Revolution in the ‘MLS is Back’ tournament

Black Players for Change an ‘organic’ movement

“After the death of George Floyd we came together,” the Toronto FC full-back explained.

“It was really organic, it started with an Instagram group chat.

“We started a conversation about if we were happy about the way we were treated in the league. And we weren’t, we weren’t happy so we started this organisation.”

‘We need to be a voice for each other’

Justin Morrow is worried by the under-representation of black people across the game in America Justin Morrow is worried by the under-representation of black people across the game in America

Justin Morrow is worried by the under-representation of black people across the game in America

Morrow is alarmed by the lack of black representation across the board in elite-level football Stateside, and says it is also important that the voices of black players are heard loud and clear.

“There were a lot of ways we were not treated fairly in Major League Soccer,” the USA international added.

“Black representation is down at all levels, not only at the top level in executive positions, but also at coaching level and through the academies.

“And, quite frankly, even player representation is not where we want it to be. Black soccer players are not making the jump from the academies to the first team very often. We want to see better opportunities there.

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Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend hopes players will feel more empowered to speak out on racism after a study revealed ‘evident bias’ in football commentary based on skin colour

Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend hopes players will feel more empowered to speak out on racism after a study revealed ‘evident bias’ in football commentary based on skin colour

“We also see racial issues popping up in Major League Soccer. We had a coach who was fired just in February this year for making racial comments, and that cannot exist in 2020.

“We need to be a voice for each other to stand up and support each other to make sure these issues are handled appropriately.”

Morrow added: “The climate has changed and my advice to anyone out there who is looking to do the same thing as us is, be bold, you can look to us as leaders. We are not afraid to be the voice that is standing up and we’re hoping that other people will follow.

“Colin Kaepernick did it a long time ago but we’re right there with him now and we think that is the right stance to take.”

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