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Oakland Roots Part of Common Goal Coalition Aiming to End Racism in Soccer

By Staff, 02/24/21, 8:00AM EST


The Sanneh Foundation, Chicago Fire FC, Angel City FC and American Outlaws join anti-racism initiative’s launch

The Anti-Racist Project (ARP), an action-based approach to tackling systemic racism in soccer and society, launched today, led by a diverse coalition of leaders from the U.S. soccer industry that are tired of the continual lack of action that follows the repeated condemnation of racism.

The ARP was created by Common Goal, a global social impact collective, together with former USMNT player Tony Sanneh, Oakland Roots (USL) – the first U.S. professional team to join Common Goal – Chicago Fire FC (MLS), Angel City FC (NWSL) and U.S. National Team supporter group, the American Outlaws.

The coalition is calling on fans, players, teams, and leagues to join the collective effort against racism.

This ground-breaking coalition, forged by a shared determination to act, aims to fund and implement a toolkit designed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) experts across the U.S. soccer landscape that will provide anti-racist training for players, coaches, fans, club staff and executives from grassroots to elite level. With existing resources from the launch partners the project will train 5,000 coaches, 60,000 young people, and 115 staff in over 400 communities in the first year. With more support this positive impact will be accelerated and scaled, therefore the members of the coalition are inviting all industry stakeholders interested in making soccer more equitable to join the project, first in the U.S. and then internationally.

USMNT and Manchester City FC goalkeeper Zack Steffen is one the first players to pledge his individual support to the project. Steffen – who in 2020 founded VOYCENOW alongside Birmingham Legion FC defender and former University of Maryland teammate Alex Crognale – said: “There’s been so much talk over the last months about racism in soccer and beyond, and enough is enough. It’s time to take action. We need to show people how to be anti-racist. I wanted to join this project because it is the kind of collective action necessary to make large-scale change, and I hope that this project will go worldwide and create a new culture of inclusion in as many countries as possible.”

United States Men's National Team and Manchester City FC goalkeeper Zack Steffen in 2020 founded VOYCENOW alongside Birmingham Legion FC defender and former University of Maryland teammate Alex Crognale.

The Anti-Racist Project will scale a modified version of the successful curriculum developed by The Sanneh Foundation over the last 20 years.

“I remember being chased around the field being called the N-word” says Sanneh. “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.”

Evan Whitfield of Common Goal, a lawyer and former MLS player, said: “Common Goal is all about unleashing the collective power of soccer to create positive action. The Anti-Racist Project is led by a unique and diverse group prepared to aggregate their individual and organizational power. There are no Black majority 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.”

“The needle doesn’t move unless everyone is involved,” said Oakland Roots defender Max Ornstil. “It’s not enough for white people to just say they support people of color. As white people we need to be willing to get uncomfortable, be vulnerable and have difficult conversations. Because change doesn’t happen without that. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”

“We want to be a part of the change that we seek in this country,” said Donald Wine, In-Stadium Chair for the American Outlaws. “As a Black man, I’ve been subjected to racial abuse in the stands and in life. We have to rid all its elements from the game. That doesn’t mean just having harsh conversations. It means actually eliminating racism from our sport and implementing real solutions that make equity and inclusion a priority in everything we do. As a supporters group, we are proud to stand with everyone calling for changing the game, and we’re ready to get started with the hard work that will be needed to eradicate racism out of soccer.”

“Angel City FC’s mission is to make an impact on and off-the-field, and our partnership with Common Goal is a natural extension of our commitment to equity in sports. We are proud to support this important initiative and very much look forward to working with Common Goal and the other great partners involved to develop a powerful curriculum and supporting in any way we can,” said Julie Uhrman, Co-Founder and President, Angel City FC.

“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,” said Senior Vice President of Football in the Neighborhoods Paul Cadwell. “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 Anti-Racist Project is open to all soccer stakeholders who would like to form part of the solution to ending racism in soccer and society. To support or join the project, or for more information, please visit

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