Teams from Liga MX, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and others have formed a coalition to root out anti-gay abuse in football, the group announced on Friday.
Play Proud United will bring together Angel City FC, Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, San Diego Wave FC and Tigers in a five-day residential training program in Los Angeles on April 11, under the auspices of the “Common goal”.
– Cavallo: Gay dating has ‘taken me to a new level’
– Don’t have ESPN? Access immediately
A second training is planned for December with the hosting of Tigers, with the aim of making stadiums and the football 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 chants during its 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
La Liga MX said in July last year that it would remove fans from stadiums for launching anti-gay chants. A month later, a joint All-Star match between MLS and Liga MX was suspended due to anti-gay chants.
In the Premier League, Everton condemned fans for chanting anti-gay at a Chelsea player in December and in January Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo spoke out about the abuse he faced during a game against Melbourne Victory.
“We are focused on what the football industry has the potential to become, and we are creating tangible ways to facilitate that positive transformation,” Play Proud founder Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe said in a statement.
Clubs will send traveling delegations comprising a team representative and group leader of their supporters, as well as a “community” football coach from their home town.
“We’ve seen the evolution of LGBTQ+ visibility on the global and national stage and we’re excited to implement this groundbreaking program in our community,” said Wave FC President Jill Ellis, who coached the United States. United towards two World Cup titles.