Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen backing new Common Goal project to end racism in football

Pledge-based charitable movement Common Goal launches anti-racist project; Steffen is one the first players to pledge his individual support to the project; "There has been so much talk over the last months about racism in soccer and beyond, and enough is enough"

Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen
Image: Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen is backing new anti-racist project by Common Goal

Manchester City's Zack Steffen is backing a new anti-racist project in conjunction with a host of players, clubs and groups across football in the United States.

The coalition are uniting to tackle systemic racism in both football and society with the launch of Common Goal's Anti-Racist Project.

MLS team Chicago Fire, USL side Oakland Roots and Angel City from NWSL, as well as the United States national team supporter group, the American Outlaws, are committed to the project calling on fans, players, teams and leagues to join the collective effort against racism.

Forged by a shared determination to act, the coalition aims to fund and implement a toolkit designed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) experts across the country's football landscape that will provide anti-racist training from grassroot to elite level.

The project will train 5,000 coaches, 60,000 young people, and 115 staff in more than 400 communities in the first year.

Steffen is one the first players to pledge his individual support to the project.

"There has been so much talk over the last months about racism in soccer and beyond, and enough is enough," said the Manchester City and United States goalkeeper.

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"It is time to take action. We need to show people how to be anti-racist.

"I wanted to join this project because it is the kind of collective action necessary to make large-scale change, and I hope that this project will go worldwide and create a new culture of inclusion in as many countries as possible."

The project will scale a modified version of a tried and tested curriculum developed by football-based community organisation The Sanneh Foundation.

"I remember being chased around the field being called the N-word," said founder Tony Sanneh, a former United States international.

"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 colour are excluded from the game. We know what the problem is - now is the time to go and fix it."

Former MLS player and member of the Common Goal team Evan Whitfield was keen to raise awareness of the need for collection action but also the lack of racial representation at many different levels within the industry.

"Common Goal is all about unleashing the collective power of soccer to create positive action," he said.

"The Anti-Racist Project is led by a unique and diverse group prepared to aggregate their individual and organisational power.

"There are no black majority 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 colour.

"We have a solution that can transform the system from top down and bottom up. I am proud that my former club, Chicago Fire, is one of the pioneers of this project and I am looking forward to more players, clubs and other soccer leaders joining us."

Max Ornstil is a defender playing for Oakland Roots - the first club in the United States to join the Common Goal movement. Like Whitfield, he believes it should not fall on the shoulders of those who are currently being oppressed.

"The needle doesn't move unless everyone is involved," said Ornstil.

"It's not enough for white people to just say they support people of colour.

"As white people we need to be willing to get uncomfortable, be vulnerable and have difficult conversations. Because change doesn't happen without that. If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem."

About Common Goal

Common Goal is a collective social impact movement in global football created in 2017 by streetfootballworld, the world’s leading organisation in the field of football for good. Common Goal enables professional football players, managers, officials and clubs to donate a minimum of one per cent of their earnings to support high-impact initiatives that use football to drive progress towards the global goals.

Since its inception, more than 180 professional football players and managers from over 40 countries have joined Common Goal, including Serge Gnabry, Pernille Harder, Jürgen Klopp, Alex Morgan, Paulo Dybala and Juan Mata.

Influential football figures such as UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, and the iconic former player Eric Cantona have also joined the movement, along with professional clubs such as FC Nordsaelland in Denmark, and the Oakland Roots in the United States.

So far, Common Goal has generated over €3.5M for high-impact football for good programs empowering girls, boys and young people all over the world.

Lending their voice too is the unofficial supporters group of the United States national teams, the American Outlaws.

In-stadium chair Donald Wine said: "We want to be a part of the change that we seek in this country. As a black man, I've been subjected to racial abuse in the stands and in life. We have to rid all its elements from the game.

"That doesn't mean just having harsh conversations. It means actually eliminating racism from our sport and implementing real solutions that make equity and inclusion a priority in everything we do.

"As a supporters' group, we are proud to stand with everyone calling for changing the game, and we're ready to get started with the hard work that will be needed to eradicate racism out of soccer."

From Chicago to Los Angeles, clubs from the country's east to west coast representing the elite level of both men's and women's leagues have pledged their support.

"Angel City FC's mission is to make an impact on and off-the-field, and our partnership with Common Goal is a natural extension of our commitment to equity in sports," said Julie Uhrman, co-founder and president, Angel City FC.

"We are proud to support this important initiative and very much look forward to working with Common Goal and the other great partners involved to develop a powerful curriculum and supporting in any way we can."

Join Common Goal's Anti-Racist Project

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