How to Make “Soccer for All” Soccer for All
Major League Soccer begins its Soccer for All Month this weekend, coinciding with LGBT Pride Month across the United States. There will be Soccer for All shirts and Soccer for All signs and Soccer for All nights across the league throughout June.
MLS says this effort is about welcoming all “regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.” These are all great. These are all important. But with homophobia still an issue in the stands and now-retired Robbie Rogers the only out man to play in the league, issues of sexual orientation and gender identity should be highlighted. Especially when you designate LGBT Pride Month as “Soccer for All.”
Wearing shirts, putting up signs, and declaring one game “Soccer for All” are good steps, but they’re the easy steps. And some teams do go beyond the easy, holding well-publicized LGBT Pride Nights and finding ways to integrate with their regions’ LGBT communities. However all teams have room to improve, and teams doing the bare minimum have a long way to go.
Here are some questions teams across soccer should be asking themselves if they really want to make “Soccer for All” soccer for all.
- Are stadium staff trained on how to identify and stop homophobic/transphobic language and fans leading homophobic/transphobic chanting?
- Are homophobic and transphobic language specifically mentioned in your team and stadium’s code of conduct?
- Do your club’s charitable donations include gifts to local LGBT charities?
- Are LGBT youth groups and teams included in the community visits your players make?
- Does your stadium have gender-neutral restrooms?
- Are promotions and announcements free of heteronormative assumptions and do they use gender non-specific language?
- Are there any LGBT establishments included in watch parties or bar affiliate programs?
- Do you have an annual LGBT Pride night with a title making it clear the event is a deliberate welcome to the LGBT community?
How do you think your team does with this list? Do you have other suggestions that you would add to this list? Let us know on social media in the run up to the league’s Soccer for All Month and we’ll be asking clubs these questions throughout the rest of the season.