Juan Mata’s Social Movement Gets First MLS Ally in Chicago Fire

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Common Goal, the social movement founded by Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, has announced more American allies today. Common Goal was founded with the purpose of uniting the global football community against the greatest social challenge of our time- systemic racism.

Given the rash of racist incidents in world football/soccer lately, there has been an even bigger push to try and stamp out hate in the beautiful game. Chicago Fire FC today announced that it is aligning with Common Goal to help launch the Anti-Racist Project (ARP), a program to combat systemic racism in football and society.

The Chicago Fire also pledged a monetary donation, for an undisclosed amount to Common Goal. The Fire are the first Major League Soccer club to join up with Common Goal.

“Common Goal is all about unleashing the collective power of soccer to create positive action,” reads a statement attributed to Evan Whitfield of Common Goal, a lawyer and former Fire midfielder.

“The Anti-Racist Project is led by a unique and diverse group prepared to aggregate their individual and organizational power. There are no majority Black owners of MLS Clubs, there are zero Black coaches in the NWSL. This needs to change, and the responsibility to make that change lies with everyone – not just people of color.

“We have a solution that can transform the system from top down and bottom up. I’m proud that my former club, Chicago Fire, is one of the pioneers of this project and I’m looking forward to more players, clubs and other soccer leaders joining us.”

Also joining the cause on Wednesday are USMNT player Tony Sanneh, Angel City FC  of the NWSL, the Oakland Roots of the USL, USMNT and Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen and USA supporter group, the American Outlaws.

Over the years, Juan Mata has seen lots of high profile names, at various levels in football, all across the world, unite with him and his initiative.

The list joining Common Goal includes Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Jurgen Klopp and Paulo Dybala. The Anti-Racist Project comes on the heels of English football launching the No Room For Racism Action Plan on Feb. 9 and the Premier League, on Feb. 11 putting pressure on social media companies to actually police all the racist activity that occurs on their platforms.

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The new slew of initiatives are about trying to convert sentiments into action. We see people expressing publicly just how much they are against racism, but this is about getting something done about it.

“I remember being chased around the field being called the N-word,” reads a statement attributed to Sanneh.

“We have made some progress but not enough. Racism takes many forms. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s coded or hidden, 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.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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