CHICAGO (May 26, 2023) – Chicago Fire FC today announced the launch of the Play Proud League as a new addition to the Chicago Fire Rec Soccer (CFRS) programming. The league is being launched in conjunction with Common Goal’s Play Proud initiative, a grassroots-driven program that works with all stakeholders across the soccer industry to make society and stadiums a safer space for the LGBTQ+ community, their families, and friends. The Play Proud League officially starts play on June 28, 2023 at the Fire Pitch . Interested participants can sign up for the Play Proud League at chicagofirefc.com/cfrs/playproud.
Chicago Fire FC’s Play Proud League is an inclusive, physically, and psychologically safe space, created for LGBTQ+ people, friends, and allies to compete and build community. Whether you are a soccer enthusiast or never kicked a ball, the Play Proud League is a place where everyone can be their authentic selves and enjoy the beautiful game.
“As the professional soccer team in Chicago, we strive to be a leader in creating more access to the sport, which is why Chicago Fire Rec Soccer is launching the Play Proud League with support from our partners at Common Goal,” said Chicago Fire FC Executive Director, Community Soccer, Lee Hannant. “A core belief of the Fire is that all are welcome in soccer and our Club is open to everyone. As an organization, we want to ensure that our matches, facilities, and programs create a safe space for our supporters, the LGBTQ+ community, and allies.”
The inaugural Play Proud League season will begin play on June 28, 2023, and will take place on Wednesdays running through August 16. Games will be played weekly at the Fire Pitch, located at 3626 N. Talman Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60618, with eight games per team guaranteed, plus playoffs. All levels of play – from recreational to advanced skill level – are welcome to join the Play Proud League. Teams will receive a Play Proud League pride jersey, as well as complimentary tickets to the Chicago Fire’s June 10 Pride Night celebration match versus Columbus Crew SC. In addition to playing opportunities, as part of the Play Proud League, Chicago Fire Rec Soccer will be offering coaching and referee certification to ensure the league has a year-round impact at all levels of the game for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. The Play Proud League joins the Fire’s various year-round efforts in support of the LGBTQ+ community, including locally through Chicago Fire Foundation partner organizations, as well as through the Fire’s adult and youth community programming.
The Fire will be celebrating the Club’s annual Pride Night at Soldier Field on Saturday, June 10 during their home match versus Columbus Crew SC. As part of Pride Night, players in the Play Proud League will receive a complimentary ticket to the match and will stand alongside FC Pineapple – a supporter group of Chicago Fire Rec Soccer who help to connect the CFRS community to the Chicago Fire FC matchday experience at Soldier Field – in unity. The Fire are looking forward to creating a lively night of unity, inclusivity, and celebrating what makes us all unique. Throughout the evening, Pride Night will feature special events, a flag giveaway, and activities planned to recognize the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to soccer and beyond. Participants who would like to participate in the League and Pride Match will need to register prior to June 9 to secure their tickets.
Chicago Fire FC became founding partners of Common Goal’s Anti-Racist project in 2021, to address the structural and systematic problems that make football inaccessible and unwelcoming to marginalized communities. Expanding their relationship with Common Goal in 2022, the Fire joined the Play Proud initiative, which trains front office staff, supporters’ groups, coaches, and community organizations on how to lead with integrity – enabling honest, trust-based conversations about homophobic, biphobic and transphobic incidents and offering a credible and transformative model to address discrimination in the stands, on the pitch, and in the boardroom. Representatives from the Chicago Fire participated in a Play Proud 10-day intensive residency training program, joining teams from Major League Soccer (MLS), National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), United Soccer League (USL), United Soccer League Championship (USL Championship), Liga MX and the Canadian Premier League (CPL) in completing 100+ hours of training with the goal of tackling inclusion at all levels of soccer, dismantling systematic barriers, and providing anti-bias education.
Chicago Fire Rec Soccer (CFRS) is the largest provider of adult rec soccer in the Midwest. Each season CFRS organizes 40+ leagues for more than 4,000 players across 350 teams. Program offerings are available for all skill levels, including men’s, women’s, and co-ed leagues year-round, in full-sided and small-sided formats at the Club’s world-class Fire Pitch facility, as well as other sites across the city of Chicago. The CFRS mission through adult soccer programs is to provide more opportunities for adults aged 18+ to enjoy the beautiful game through world-class programming, unique matchday experiences, watch parties, coach and referee licensing, and more to help support the Chicago soccer ecosystem for years to come.
For more information and to register for the Chicago Fire FC Play Proud League, visit chicagofirefc.com/cfrs/playproud. Tickets for the Fire’s June 10 Pride Night match versus Columbus Crew SC are available for purchase here. The match will be broadcast on Apple TV+ and transmitted locally in English on 890 WLS-AM and in Spanish on TUDN 1200 AM.