MLS Expands Diversity Hiring Requirements For Athletic Staff

Major League Soccer clubs are to interview at least one black candidate when hiring for athletic positions as part of the diversity hiring policy updates announced by the league on Tuesday.

The new requirement requires that at least two non-white applicants be interviewed for any open sporting / technical position with clubs and one of the applicants must be black. Previously, the league’s hiring requirements called for only one “miscellaneous” candidate to be interviewed for open positions.

Teams that do not follow the new policy face fines, including $ 50,000 for a first offense and up to $ 100,000 for a second offense.

Commissioner Don Garber said during his State of the League address that work on updating the league’s diversity hiring process began about a year ago after Sola Winley was hired. as the league’s chief head of diversity, equity and inclusion, and included working with black players for The Change and the football collective on racial equality.

“We had the equivalent of the Rooney Rule… it’s been a while and it needed an evolution,” Garber said. “I mean, the goal is to increase representation, especially within the black community. We need to fill the pipeline with candidates. We have work to do there. There are a lot of programs and initiatives.

While the new requirements only affect technical staff within each franchise, the league plans to expand the hiring requirements to front offices in the future. Garber didn’t have a timeline for when this would happen except to say it would happen soon. He said the teams have been supportive.

For a change, Garber’s year-end speech did not focus on labor agreements after the parties agreed to a new collective agreement in February that will run until 2027.

But expansion remains a hot issue. MLS will host its 28th franchise with Charlotte starting play next season and St. Louis starting in 2023 with its downtown football stadium slated for completion in late 2022.

As for the 30th team, Las Vegas is the undisputed leader of the discussions. There are ongoing conversations with other potential markets like Phoenix and San Diego, but Garber said there has been progress in Las Vegas with potential owner Wes Edens and the possibility of a year-round announcement. next.

“We are very bullish in the market and will continue to move forward,” Garber said.

Other topics covered by Garber:

– The league hopes to close its next media deals in the first quarter of 2022. Current media deals expire after next year. Garber said what is presented to potential bidders is a complete package, as teams were asked several years ago to expire their local media, streaming, data and sportsbook offerings by the end of it. of the 2022 season. “Our new package kind of takes a step forward in assuming and accepting that consumers are going to engage in a way without barriers specific to blocking or specific to local markets,” Garber said.

– Garber didn’t have much update on the property situation with Real Salt Lake. The league took control of the club’s sale last January with the goal of having a sale finalized by the end of this year. There have been rumors of potential buyers. But no sale has yet been finalized. “We had a schedule to do it by the end of the year. We’ll see if that’s still achievable, ”Garber said.

– The league will open a new football stadium in Nashville next season, but the New York City FC stadium situation remains a concern. Saturday’s MLS Cup final will be held in Portland, but had the Timbers lost to RSL in the Western Conference Finals, the NYCFC would have hosted the final at Yankee Stadium. Garber said NYCFC ownership continues to resolve issues in finding a permanent stadium solution. “We have to get it right. It’s not that easy to build stadiums in big cities, and New York is the biggest in our league. So I am confident that in time they will be able to have their own stadium. I hope I’m still commissioner then, ”Garber said.


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