Teams from Liga MX, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and others have formed a coalition to eliminate anti-gay abuse from soccer, the group said on Friday.
Play Proud United will bring together Angel City FC, Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, San Diego Wave FC and Tigres to a five-day residential training program in Los Angeles on April 11, under the auspices of the “Common Goal” soccer movement.
A second training is expected in December with Tigres hosting, with the goal to make stadiums and the soccer community a safer place for the LGBTQ+ community.
Anti-gay abuse has persisted in the sport and FIFA sanctioned the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) 12 times for anti-gay chanting during their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Liga MX in July last year said it would remove fans from stadiums for making anti-gay chants. A month later, a joint All-Star game between MLS and Liga MX was put on hold because of anti-gay chants.
In the Premier League, Everton condemned supporters for anti-gay chants against a Chelsea player in December and in January Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo called out abuse he faced in a game against Melbourne Victory.
“We’re focused on what the soccer industry has the potential to become, and we are creating tangible ways to facilitate this positive transformation,” Play Proud founder Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe said in a statement.
Clubs will send travel delegations that include one team representative and a leader of their supporters’ group, as well as a “community-based” soccer coach from their home city.
“We have seen the evolution of LGBTQ+ visibility on the global and national stage and we are excited to implement this groundbreaking curriculum in our community,” said Wave FC president Jill Ellis, who coached the United States to two World Cup titles.