Black representation down at all levels in MLS, says Black Players for Change executive director Justin Morrow
Justin Morrow: "Black representation is down at all levels, not only at the top level in executive positions, but also at coaching level and through the academies"
Last Updated: 12/07/20 10:12am
Toronto FC defender and Black Players for Change executive director Justin Morrow has hit out at the lack of black representation "at all levels" of Major League Soccer.
Formed last month following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Black Players for Change consists of almost 200 black MLS players, who are championing systemic change to tackle racism and inequality both inside and outside of the league.
Morrow is alarmed by the lack of black representation across the board in elite-level football in the United States, and says it is time for change.
"There were a lot of ways we were not treated fairly in Major League Soccer," the USA international told Sky Sports News.
"Black representation is down at all levels, not only at the top level in executive positions, but also at coaching level and through the academies.
"And, quite frankly, even player representation is not where we want it to be. Black soccer players are not making the jump from the academies to the first team very often. We want to see better opportunities there.
"We also see racial issues popping up in Major League Soccer. We had a coach who was fired just in February this year for making racial comments, and that cannot exist in 2020.
"We need to be a voice for each other to stand up and support each other to make sure these issues are handled appropriately.
"The climate has changed and my advice to anyone out there who is looking to do the same thing as us is, be bold, you can look to us as leaders. We are not afraid to be the voice that is standing up and we're hoping that other people will follow.
"Colin Kaepernick did it a long time ago but we're right there with him now and we think that is the right stance to take."
Black Players for Change aims to "address racial inequalities in MLS, fight racism in soccer, elevate black voices and positively impact black communities across the USA and Canada".
"After the death of George Floyd we came together. It was really organic, it started with an Instagram group chat," Morrow explained.
"We started a conversation about if we were happy about the way we were treated in the league. And we weren't, we weren't happy so we started this organisation."
In a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, players across MLS knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds - marking the amount of time a police officer knelt on Floyd's neck - before Wednesday's MLS is Back Tournament opener in Orlando.
Morrow has been encouraged by how white players have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with their black team-mates mates in the fight for racial equality.
"Our white team-mates throughout the league have been very supportive of us," Morrow said. "They have been looking for ways to get involved and help lift up our voices as well.
"We've seen on social media a lot of players have had individual conversations with their team-mates and they cannot wait till the day we have initiatives developed where we can be fighting this battle together.
"In the coming months, you will see us fighting side-by-side with our white team-mates to make the change we want to see."
'We look at Sterling and Rashford as leaders'
Premier League players have knelt at the beginning of every match since English football's top flight resumed following the coronavirus lockdown.
Morrow says black MLS players are grateful for the support the Black Lives Matters movement has received in the Premier League and he views players like Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford as leaders in the fight for racial equality.
"We have been absolutely aware of what has been happening in the Premier League and other leagues, and how they are taking a stance on Black Lives Matters, and what it means to them," Morrow said.
"We look at them as leaders over there as well. We see what Raheem Sterling is doing and what Marcus Rashford is doing and the hope is that one day we'll be connected in this fight together.
"For confidentiality reasons, I cannot say who I have spoken to but I have been in touch with players in the Premier League.
"They were interested in what we are doing over here and whether it's something that is transferrable over there.
"I'm still understanding the politics of football in the UK so I'm giving them as much advice as I can to help them stick with us while also bringing something to the table as well."