Oh MLS.. Diversity is Not Your Thing, but You Talk a Good Game


MLS Coaches – A LOT of White Guys in One Pic

The above picture was tweeted by SI’s Brian Straus today, ironically on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King’s Dream. Of course, I responded with the appalling lack of diversity in the MLS, as evidenced by the photo. It developed in a twit-versation about diversity in MLS.  For my money, Straus and Steve Goff are, far and way, the top of soccer journalism in America, so I always eagerly await their opinions on topics of the game.

During the discussion, Straus sent me the link to The 2013 Racial and Gender Report Card: Major League Soccer.  It is a 29 page analysis of where MLS stands in terms of diversity.  After reading the entire report, my take away is this If you are a woman or are black or Asian MLS is bleak for you and your career.  If you are a white then you are golden; if you are Hispanic you are the doing ok for the most part.

The report notes that for only the second time in MLS history, players of color outnumber white players (52.3% were players of color).  Yet at the time of the report, only two coaches were not white, both Hispanic males (Pareja and at the time, Chivas USA’s Real).  Things have changed but not really.  There are no African-American or Asian coaches.

As for assistant coaches, a mind-boggling small percentage are African-Americans (1.6% of MLS assistant coaches).  The category, “other,” minority is almost quadruple that of African-American assistant coaches. Of course, there are zero women.  How does one get to be a head coach without any experience as an assistant?

At the top of the club level is almost barren as well.  While owners are all male and mainly white with some limited Latino and Asian ownership, their CEOs/Presidents and General Managers are by and large, white males.  There was a single white woman (Jody Allen of the Sounders) and two Hispanic males (Jose David of Chivas and Petrei of the Fire) in those roles.

As for the step below, there were 9 female VPs including Mardi Walker who is TFO’s, “Senior VP of People.”  None of the women are involved in the game side of the club activities, instead running administration/finance/human resources or marketing and ticket sales.  There are 6 persons of color (all male) holding VP positions in MLS clubs, none of them are in technical/game side of club’s business.

The League’s head office has 3 persons of color (all male) in VP roles and only Nelson Rodriguez is on the technical side as Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical and Game Operations [Note – He actually resigned almost two weeks ago and was replaced with Jeff Agoos and Todd Durbin splitting his job per the Philly Union  and thanks to @sterling_m for the heads-up].  So that is exactly zero minorities now in game related senior roles.

Six women hold senior titles in the MLS executive offices including Kathryn Carter (President of Soccer United Marketing), the VP of Special Events and Consumer Products, Licensing and Retail Development [that is Emily Unruh].  The League was giving an A+ and an A- respectively for racial and gender hiring.  They have 38.3% of all positions in with the league.

There has not been a female head trainer in MLS since 2007, yeah that is 7 [yes SEVEN years] and there has not been an African-American head trainer since 2008, so just 6 years.   Also there were zero female team doctors in the 2013, season dropping from 2.2% of all team physicians in the 2012 season.  Asian and African-American team physicians also lost ground in 2013.  Only the Latino physicians saw an increase in hiring.

MLS also experienced a 12.3% decrease in minority radio/television announcers.   There were 12.5% less Latino announcers than last season.  African-Americans picked up two points and are now 2.2% of MLS announcers.  There have been ZERO Asian announcers since 2005, IN NINEYEARS.  Yet, Asians own almost 6% of the clubs.   Women jumped 2.6% to 6.6 in the 2013 after the great fall of 2011 when we went from 10% to 2%.   If you are wondering minorities made by 40% of MLS’s broadcasters in 2011, and 18.7% in 2013.

The league was given an “A+” for MLS Diversity Initiatives..  So basically talking a good game and not doing a hell of to make positive changes.   If you are Asian, African-American or a woman, you especially have NO ROLE in the actual, technical side of the game, just in selling it and selling tickets for it.

This is simply an American Soccer Disgrace…  MLS, US Soccer and fans need to demand more from the American game.  Diversity cannot be something the league pays only pays in lipservice establishing, “initiatives” and marketing campaigns around.  IT MUST BE SOMETHING THE LEAGUE ACTIVELY WORKS TO INCORPORATE INTO EVERY FACET OF ITS EXISTENCE.


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