We need to do more. And we will.
That has been our Club’s promise since undertaking a pledge to be more active contributors in the fight against racism and to better use our platform to bring about positive social change.
Here you’ll find the latest efforts our organization is making in order to hold ourselves accountable to that promise through action.
Jan. 18, 2022
On Jan. 18, the Club announced the hiring of former Club defender Evan Whitfield as Vice President of Equity, Alumni Relations, and Engagement.
In this newly created role for the organization, Whitfield will be responsible for leading the Club’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy, alumni relations, as well as representing the Club as an ambassador. He will also work directly with the community development department, focusing on the launch of an alumni program, building the Club’s corporate and government relations, oversee the Club’s pledge and lead Club-wide efforts to support DEI programs and initiatives.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Evan back to the Chicago Fire, a Club to which he helped bring excellence across the city and the sport when he represented the Fire,” said President of Business Operations Ishwara Glassman Chrein. “Evan has made very positive impacts throughout his career, and his unique background as a former player, coupled with his impressive law and business experience, will help create new standards for our Club.”
Whitfield joins the Fire from Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP, where he started in 2008 and quickly ascended to being named partner at the firm. In the soccer community, Whitfield is a leader within Common Goal, a player-led social movement in global soccer, a role he will continue to hold while working for the Fire. In addition, Whitfield led the launch of the Anti-Racist Project, a program designed to tackle all aspects of soccer’s problem with racism.
“I am elated to be part of the Fire organization again,” said Whitfield. “The Fire, at this time, is an ideal opportunity for me as it gives me an opportunity to use my professional experience and passion for the game for the betterment of the Club. The Fire represent this amazing city and it is essential that we reflect the great diversity of our city and maintain an inclusive environment for all. The impact that soccer can have here can be powerful, and together, we will strive to continually make a lasting impact here in Chicago.”
Whitfield spent seven years in MLS, spending his first six years as a member of the Chicago Fire. The defender earned 103 appearances (78 starts) in his time with the Club, helping the Fire win two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles (2000, 2003) and capture the Supporters’ Shield (2003). Whitfield was also a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team and represented the United States in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Upon his retirement from soccer, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University, College of Law. He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University in biological anthropology and anatomy, and while playing in MLS, he earned his MA in Organization Management from the University of Phoenix.
July 22, 2021
On July 22, the Club announced that it would be partnering with the Illinois Diversity Council (ILDC). The Fire became the first professional sports team to partner with the ILDC, as it continued to place an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
“We’re excited to partner with the ILDC as we continue to expand our work in the diversity, equity and inclusion space,” said Chicago Fire FC President of Business Operations Ishwara Glassman Chrein. “With their deep expertise in DEI, the ILDC will help us to build on the progress we have already made to foster an inclusive environment, and further expand our efforts to reflect the great diversity that exists in the city of Chicago.”
Through this partnership, the ILDC will provide the Fire with DEI consulting and training, as well as educational and professional development opportunities for staff members. Cherie Price Coleman, president of the ILDC, will work closely with the Fire’s senior leadership and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) council to expand the Club’s DEI mission, develop and implement new initiatives, and deliver inclusive leadership training.
“The Illinois Diversity Council is pleased to have a vast array of partnerships spanning across diverse industries in business boardrooms, higher education classrooms and in the streets collaborating with community alliances,” said Coleman. “The onboarding of Chicago Fire FC is our very first professional sports organization and we’re proud to work alongside the Club to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion while impacting the culture for sports arena stakeholders.”
Today’s announcement marks the Fire’s latest diversity, equity and inclusion initiative since undertaking a Pledge to be more active contributors in the fight against racism. Since making that Pledge, the Fire partnered with Cook Ross - a full-service diversity and inclusion consulting firm with more than 30 years of experience in the DEI space - to help the Club assess and strengthen its diversity efforts. With their team’s help and guidance, the Club successfully reformed its hiring and recruitment processes to instill diversity initiatives, provide DEI training to all staff members and much more. Additionally, on Feb. 24, the Fire announced a partnership with Common Goal to help launch the Anti-Racist Project (ARP), an action-based approach to tackling systemic racism in football and society.
The ILDC is the region’s premier resource for the education and advocacy of diversity, equity and inclusion. Through a variety of events and programs, the ILDC serves as a catalyst for meaningful cultural change within corporate suites, higher education institutions and community organizations to ensure that every individual is welcomed, valued, heard and supported.
April 20, 2021
We want to reaffirm that our Club denounces and stands in opposition to racism, prejudice and violence. We always have, and we always will. We stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, friends, the Black community, its allies and all those who have been impacted by racism. Through our Pledge, we remain committed to doing our part in our community.
Feb. 24, 2021
On Feb. 24, the Fire announced that the Club would be 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 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 pledged a monetary donation to Common Goal. The collected funds will be 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 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.
Oct. 31, 2020
On June 2, our Club made a Pledge to our fans, the City, and ourselves. We indicated we would engage with our stakeholders to develop programs to combat racism, identify our blind spots and share our plans to do our part.
Today, we want to share our progress on that Pledge. With the help of Cook Ross – a full-service diversity and inclusion consulting firm with 30 years of experience addressing organizational development issues, including deep expertise in the role of bias in the workplace – we started our process by reflecting on ourselves and what we could do internally in commitment to that Pledge. While we must continue to examine and improve ourselves, here is our initial progress to date:
We’ve initiated dialogue with multiple stakeholders and organizations and engaged Cook Ross to conduct a full, independent assessment of our Club.
We’ve commenced training and education programs for all staff, full-time and part-time, which have now become standard operating procedure for onboarding.
We’ve reformed our recruitment and hiring process with new job descriptions, interview methods, and partnerships with agencies who specialize in recruitment of diverse candidates. We’ve also instituted a policy requiring a diverse candidate pool for every hire.
We’ve revised our request for suppliers and services protocol to ensure Black-owned businesses have the opportunity to bid for all work sought by our Club.
We are launching a new Black-owned business initiative providing a customized marketing and digital partnership with the Club and a membership in the CFFC Business Alliance on an annual basis.
We’ve created a volunteer program providing employees with paid volunteer time off to lend a hand to not-for-profit community organizations and help underserved communities throughout Chicagoland.
In partnership with Game Plan and RISE, our academy will have players participate in online lessons and team discussions that address diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As we continue to move forward in the months and years to come, we will work to implement programs utilizing the power and positivity of football that will serve the needs of Black and underserved communities. We are also developing broader plans for meaningful partnerships with and for the benefit of people of color, women and the LGBTQ+ communities. We will work with community organizers, city officials, supporters, partners and other agencies along the way to ensure collaboration and to assist in reflection and accountability.
We recognize that our work has only just begun and that it will require relentless focus and discipline. As such, we will publicly recommit to our pledge annually. We will post updates on our Pledge site, including results to-date and plans for the ensuing year. We want to create a dialogue and invite you to share your thoughts and get involved. Fans, members of the community and prospective partners can send ideas and thoughts to email@example.com.
Our Pledge lives across the entire Club and will be reflected in every decision that we make.
We stand against racism. We stand for Chicago.
June 2, 2020
As a professional sports club that bears the name Chicago, we felt it was important to speak out about recent events.
We needed time to reflect. We wanted to do more than make a short comment. We wanted a response that would be representative of our entire Club.
We listened to the people who make up Chicago Fire FC, including our players, supporters and staff. They’re our teammates in the locker room, in the stands, in the office and in our community.
The last few months have been hard. The last days agonizingly more so. The impact of events has left many hurting and our communities in distress. As you can imagine, the subsequent discussions we had about how our Club should respond yielded many different perspectives and opinions.
We want to be crystal clear: We denounce and stand in opposition to racism, prejudice and violence. We always have, and we always will. In this moment, we mourn the killing of George Floyd. We also mourn the countless other members of the black community whose lives have been impacted by racism. But those words will be hollow unless we implement specific programs and initiatives that will allow our Club to spark real change. The future needs to have a different outcome.
We have always taken pride in serving Chicago. In being a good neighbor. We’re proud of the work our Foundation and Neighborhoods group has done, touching tens of thousands of young lives in schools, playgrounds and camps in many of the city’s most underserved communities.
But it isn’t enough. We need to do more. And we will.
We are sharing today that by November 1, 2020, the Club will unveil new programs intended to help combat racism and bring about positive change. We’ll begin by inviting those with ideas to make us better and to help identify our blind spots. While we have diverse voices across our Club, we will add more. We know we won’t eradicate racism alone, but we’ll have a plan in place to do our part on a daily basis.
As a Club, we are raising our collective hand and pledging to be better, to do better and to be held accountable.
We stand against racism. We stand for Chicago.