Chicago Fire FC have joined forces with Common Goal, co-founded by World Cup-winner Juan Mata, to help launch the Anti-Racist Project, an action-based approach to tackling systemic racism in football and society, the club announced Wednesday.
The new project, which launched Wednesday, is led by a diverse coalition of leaders from the United States soccer world — including US men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen, former USMNT defender Tony Sanneh, Angel City FC (NWSL), Oakland Roots (USL) and the American Outlaws supporters group — who are tired of the lack of action that follows the repeated condemnation of racism.
The Fire have also pledged a monetary donation, which will be used to support the work of non-profit organizations around the world that use football to tackle social issues like health, racial and gender equality, unemployment and the COVID-19 crisis.
"We’re committed to Standing for Chicago and fully believe in the club’s pledge and want to be held accountable in the fight for racial and social justice,” Fire senior vice president of football in the neighborhoods Paul Cadwell said in a statement. “The responsibilities of the club lie beyond the field and we recognize our work within the community is ongoing. The partnership with Common Goal and the Anti-Racist Project allows a collaboration by football clubs around the globe to make an impact in the game, but even more so in our communities.”
The groundbreaking coalition aims to fund a toolkit designed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color experts across the U.S. soccer system, that will see 5,000 coaches, 60,000 young people, and 115 staff trained in more than 400 communities in the first year. The group is inviting all industry stakeholders interested in becoming a part of the solution to help level the playing field and make soccer more equitable, first in the U.S. and then internationally.
The Anti-Racism Project will scale a modified version of the successful curriculum developed by Sanneh and The Sanneh Foundation over the past 20 years.
“I remember being chased around the field being called the N-word,” Sanneh said. “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 color are excluded from the game. We know what the problem is – now is the time to go and fix it.”
To support or join the project, or for more information please visit www.common-goal.org.