Garber acknowledged the league needs to do better. The league has begun the process of recruiting a head of diversity, equity and inclusion, a senior executive post that will report directly to Garber. And it has assured Black players and administrative employees that they will have seats at the table in developing proactive plans to increase representation, and not just in areas related to diversity and inclusion.
“They wanted to know what the league was doing, how we were going to collectively utilize our platforms to ensure that the league was addressing racism and social injustice,” he said. “They never lost focus on the areas that they felt they could make a difference in.”
Already, several Black M.L.S. players said, there have been small victories. In October, the league announced several new initiatives, in collaboration with Black Players for Change, to address racism and increase Black representation in positions of authority, both in the league office and on its teams.
Edwards warns players to be wary of the participation of any league in racial justice campaigns, and to cautiously suspend cynicism only when they see concrete action. The idea is that initiatives themselves aren’t results, but merely a platform on which to build the actual plans that increase representation. It’s a principle, the M.L.S. players said, they will carry with them.
“Our challenge as an organization is to make sure that Major League Soccer is continuing to take those steps in the right way,” Morrow said, “and use our voice and our influence to hold them to the fire.”