MLS Revolution CF Montreal Soccer

New England midfielder Carles Gil has been voted MVP of the league. Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

MLS said Tuesday that it will require clubs to include at least two non-white finalists for coaching and other technical jobs and also specified penalties for organizations that violate that policy.

One finalist must be Black, an effort to further diversify a league that scores high in employing Latino coaches but has featured few Black coaches. Entering the offseason, only three of 28 MLS teams has a Black coach: Colorado, Chicago and Montreal. There are eight Latino coaches.

About 25% of MLS players are Black.

“We are very focused on ensuring we have proper representation and proper opportunities,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said during his state of the league address. “That is the responsibility and obligation of every business, whether it’s here or around the world. We all have to have an awakening of what happened over the last year and ensure we are doing our part. It’s our attempt at making a difference.”

A diversity policy has been in place since 2007, but clubs were required only to interview at least one non-white candidate. And even then, the rules were rarely, if ever, enforced.

Now, the league will issue fines of up to $50,000 for first offenses and $100,000 for second offenses. Penalties for additional violations will be “pursuant to the commissioner’s discretion,” the league said. Previously, the commissioner had sole discretion to impose sanctions as he saw fit.


MLS said it will define underrepresented groups as Black, women, Latino, Native American, Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific islanders, Canadian indigenous and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Beyond head and assistant coaches, the policy will apply to jobs such as general manager and technical director. It will also impact MLS youth academies and developmental teams – an effort to “fill the pipeline,” Garber said.

In the future, the league said, the policy will expand to front offices.

The guidelines will be evaluated annually “based on interviewing and hiring data, and changes will be made if it is determined that the policy is not achieving the intended results,” MLS said.

The push for greater representation in soccer’s Black community took root during broader public protests last year.

“Part of our goal was to give Black players a voice in our league and advance human-rights inequalities through programs and policies that address systemic racism,” New England Revolution goalkeeper Earl Edwards – a member of Black Players for Change, which formed last year – said in a written statement. “The policy itself was created with an understanding that it will need to be a work in progress in order to obtain the tangible results we are seeking.”



Spanish midfielder Carles Gil, who guided the New England Revolution to the best regular season record in MLS history, was voted MVP. Despite missing six matches, he led the league in assists (18) and added four goals.

Gil, 29, becomes the first New England player to win the award since Taylor Twellman in 2005.

The other finalists were New York City FC’s Valentín Castellanos, MLS’s leading goal scorer; Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar, who finished in second place; the Seattle Sounders’ João Paulo, who ended up in third place (Seattle Sounders FC); and Sporting Kansas City’s Dániel Sallói.


Las Vegas remains the front-runner to become MLS’s 30th team, Garber said, but the league remains in talks with Phoenix and San Diego. The possible relocation of the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas would not impact MLS’s decision, Garber said. In recent years, the city welcomed NHL and NFL franchises.


“I am just blown away by what’s going on in Vegas, and I’ve been in the sports business for a really long time. I didn’t see it coming,” said Garber, who has been in charge since 1999 and previously worked in the NFL. “We are very bullish about the market.”

Charlotte will join MLS in 2022 and St. Louis in 2023. A 30th team would not start playing until 2024, at the earliest.

MLS’s immediate plan is to cap the number of teams at 30, though Garber left the door open for further expansion in the long term.

“I don’t know what professional soccer is going to look like 20 years from now or 30 years from now and how many divisions there will be,” Garber said. “I am not quite sure 30 teams is the ultimate end goal for Major League Soccer.”

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