Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match Announcement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: MLS Communications
MLS WORKS and ESPN present a Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match between North America and Germany
NEW YORK (July 29, 2014) – On behalf of the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, MLS WORKS, ESPN and Special Olympics are collaborating to leverage the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports.
On Tuesday, August 5th, MLS WORKS and ESPN will host a Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star soccer match between Special Olympics North America and Special Olympics Germany, to coincide with the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Stars taking on German Bundesliga club, FC Bayern Munich.
The two Unified Sports soccer teams (comprised of players both with and without intellectual disabilities, wearing uniforms provided by adidas) will play a 7v7 small-sided match, consisting of two 20-minute halves, at 2 p.m. PT on the Providence Park game field. The game will start immediately following the AT&T MLS All-Star open training session with free admission to the public. Special Olympics athletes and unified partners will be available for interviews following the game.
The game will showcase the Unified Sports exchange program that is the cornerstone of the ongoing partnership between MLS and Special Olympics North America. Through the Unified Sports soccer exchange program, Unified soccer teams from MLS cities travel to other MLS markets to receive training from MLS players and coaches, as well as compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts in that MLS market. Unified matches are scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, providing MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand, the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players.
Toronto FC All-Star and World Cup star Michael Bradley will be joined by Bayern Munich legend and club ambassador Paul Breitner to present the Special Olympic athletes and the Unified Partners with medals following the match.
The participants and coaches will also participate in a halftime recognition during the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Providence Park (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Univision, RDS, TSN). ESPN is the Global Presenting Sponsor and Official Media Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports.
WHAT: Special Olympics North America vs. Special Olympics Germany Unified Sports Soccer Match
WHEN: Tuesday, August 5
2:00 p.m. PT (immediately following the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Open Training Session)
WHERE: Providence Park game field
ADMISSION: Free, no ticket required
CONTACT: Lauren Hayes, Lauren.Hayes@MLSsoccer.com, (708) 921-6504
Major League Soccer Partners with Special Olympics
For Immediate Release
October 14, 2013
Major League Soccer and Special Olympics Partner to Encourage
Inclusion and Acceptance through Sport
Special Olympics Unified Sports exchange program unites soccer players in MLS markets
NEW YORK – MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, today announced a partnership with Special Olympics to bring soccer, the world’s most popular sport, to more athletes with intellectual disabilities.
The partnership will leverage the strength of Major League Soccer to promote awareness, respect, inclusion and acceptance of Special Olympics athletes throughout the soccer community.
Support from the MLS community will help raise awareness about the opportunities available to athletes with intellectual disabilities, increasing the number of participants, coaches, and fans needed to grow the sport of soccer within Special Olympics North America programs.
Unique to this partnership is an exchange program for Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer teams, which are comprised of players both with and without intellectual disabilities.
These Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer teams, supported by their respective home-state MLS clubs, will not only receive training from their own MLS players and coaches, but will also travel to other MLS markets to train alongside their Special Olympics counterparts.
In addition to training sessions, the Unified teams will also compete in a game as part of the exchange program. These Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer matches, scheduled in conjunction with MLS home games, will be played between the two Unified teams clad in their respective MLS clubs’ uniforms.
The exchange program not only provides Special Olympics athletes with top-level training and competitive experiences, but also offers MLS fans an opportunity to witness the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players first-hand.
“This partnership, between two global leaders in sport, represents an extraordinary opportunity to bring the sport of soccer to many more athletes, both with and without intellectual disabilities, and introduce Special Olympics to MLS fans everywhere,” said Bob Gobrecht, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics North America. Gobrecht added, “MLS and Special Olympics share the value of improving the lives of all people through sport, and this partnership demonstrates that Major League Soccer recognizes and respects the legitimate sport abilities, and potential, of Special Olympics athletes.”
“Through our Don’t Cross the Line campaign, MLS has made a formal commitment to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the game,” said JoAnn Neale, Chief Administrative Officer at MLS. “This partnership with Special Olympics offers yet another opportunity to demonstrate that our sport accepts and welcomes all athletes and fans, including those with intellectual disabilities.”
While many MLS clubs have relationships with their local Special Olympics programs, including Unified teams supported by Portland Timbers FC, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, and FC Dallas this season, the Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders FC have been instrumental in growing the Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer exchange program.
“The pioneer programs in Colorado and Seattle have shown what a profound impact this collaboration can have on awareness and involvement in Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer programing. Their commendable dedication to this campaign has set a high standard and we look forward working closely with Special Olympics to replicate that success in MLS markets across North America,” said Neale.
About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. Major League Soccer’s 18th season features 19 clubs, each playing 34 regular-season matches. Those clubs include the Chicago Fire; Chivas USA; Colorado Rapids; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; 2012 MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy; Montreal Impact; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; Philadelphia Union; Portland Timbers; Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; Sporting Kansas City; Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. New York City FC was unveiled May 21, 2013. For more information about MLS, log on to the league’s official website at www.MLSsoccer.com.
About MLS WORKS
MLS WORKS is Major League Soccer's community outreach initiative dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. For more information visit the website at www.MLSsoccer.com/mlsworks or follow us on Twitter (@MLSWORKS).
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports every day around the world. Through its work in sports, health education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement serves more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics provides 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 70,000 competitions throughout the year. Engage with Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org, Twitter @specialolympics, Facebook - fb.com/specialolympics.
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Major League Soccer: Lauren Brophy, Manager, Corporate Communications, 212-450-1227, lauren.brophy@MLSsoccer.com
Special Olympics: Amie Dugan, Director, Marketing and Communications, Special Olympics North America, 407-455-0502, firstname.lastname@example.org