CHICAGO (Feb. 24, 2021) – Chicago Fire FC today announced that it is aligning with Common Goal to help launch the Anti-Racist Project (ARP), an action-based approach to tackling systemic racism in football and society. The new project, launched today, is led by a diverse coalition of leaders from the United States football industry that are tired of the lack of action that follows the repeated condemnation of racism. Furthermore, the Chicago Fire have pledged a monetary donation to Common Goal. The collected funds are used to support the work of non-profit organizations around the world that use football to tackle social issues like health, racial and gender equality, unemployment, and the COVID-19 crisis.
Common Goal, co-founded by World Cup-winner Juan Mata with the goal of uniting the global football community to tackle the greatest social challenges of our time, created ARP together with the Fire, the first team in MLS to join the movement, former Chicago Fire FC and U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) player Tony Sanneh, Angel City FC (NWSL), Oakland Roots (USL), USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen and U.S. national teams supporter group, the American Outlaws. All of these organizations, clubs and players have pledged their support of the project and call on the entire football community to join the effort.
“We’re committed to Standing for Chicago and fully believe in the Club’s Pledge and want to be held accountable in the fight for racial and social justice,” said Senior Vice President of Football in the Neighborhoods Paul Cadwell. “The responsibilities of the Club lie beyond the field and we recognize our work within the community is ongoing. The partnership with Common Goal and the Anti-Racist Project allows a collaboration by football clubs around the globe to make an impact in the game, but even more so in our communities.”
The groundbreaking coalition, forged by a shared determination to act, aims to fund a toolkit designed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) experts across the U.S. football system, that will see 5,000 coaches, 60,000 young people, and 115 staff trained in more than 400 communities in the first year. The group is inviting all industry stakeholders interested in becoming a part of the solution to help level the playing field and make football more equitable, first in the U.S. and then internationally.
The Anti-Racism Project will scale a modified version of the successful curriculum developed by Sanneh and The Sanneh Foundation over the past 20 years.
“I remember being chased around the field being called the N-word,” said Sanneh. “We have made some progress but not enough. Racism takes many forms. Sometimes it’s an obvious individual manifestation, but it’s also the structural barriers embedded in the game at different levels, but the end result is the same – people of color are excluded from the game. We know what the problem is – now is the time to go and fix it."
Since its inception, more than 180 players and coaches worldwide have joined the movement, including Megan Rapinoe, the 2019 Best FIFA Women's Player, fellow USWNT World Cup and Olympic winner Alex Morgan, Liverpool head coach Juergen Klopp, Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry, Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels and Juventus’ Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala. So far, Common Goal has generated more than $4M for high-impact football for good programs empowering young people all over the world.
“Common Goal is all about unleashing the collective power of soccer to create positive action,” said Evan Whitfield of Common Goal, a lawyer and former Fire midfielder. “The Anti-Racist Project is led by a unique and diverse group prepared to aggregate their individual and organizational power. There are no majority Black owners of MLS Clubs, there are zero Black coaches in the NWSL. This needs to change, and the responsibility to make that change lies with everyone - not just people of color. We have a solution that can transform the system from top down and bottom up. I’m proud that my former club, Chicago Fire, is one of the pioneers of this project and I’m looking forward to more players, clubs and other soccer leaders joining us.”
The Anti-Racism Project is open to all football stakeholders who would like to be part of the solution to ending racism in the sport and society. To support or join the project, or for more information please visit www.common-goal.org.