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MLS and Charlotte FC Highlight Diversity and Inclusion in June
Pride Night Supports Time Out Youth, and Juneteenth Jerseys Go for Big Bucks
On Thursday, one of the most famous footballers in the world – Megan Rapinoe – received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work on and off the pitch. Her appearance itself was an act of advocacy as she wore a suit honoring Brittney Griner, the professional basketball player currently detained in Russia.
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Rapinoe and her teammates successfully lobbied for the U.S. Women’s National Team to be paid the same as the men; they’ve certainly earned it. The USA Women have won four World Cup titles; the USA Men’s best result is third place, 92 years ago. Off the pitch, she is a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community, and took a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick during his 2016 protests.
The National Football League was accused of conspiring against Kaepernick by “blackballing” him after his political statements, and eventually the parties settled out of court – but Kaepernick never played in the NFL again. The NFL has had other visible problems with race, diversity, and inclusion – all problems Major League Soccer wants to avoid.
Using their platform
This past month, Charlotte FC and MLS celebrated both Juneteenth and LGBTQ Pride Month. During their match in Columbus, both sides donned Juneteenth-themed jerseys, and the Crew’s supporters section impressed with a giant pride-themed tifo:
On Charlotte’s Pride Night, the stadium giveaway was captain’s armbands featuring a mix of the Philadelphia pride flag and the transgender flag, and at halftime the club presented a check to Time Out Youth, a local organization that serves LGBTQ teens and children at a critical point in their lives.
I was interested to know how members of the team felt about the importance of diversity and inclusion. After Charlotte’s Pride Night, I asked defender Anton Walkes what he had to say to Charlotte’s LGBTQ community.
“We’re with you,” said Walkes. “To make progress we have to be supportive and keep supporting each other and being proud.”
When I asked forward Andre Shinyashiki about MLS and the team celebrating Pride and Juneteenth, he said, “I personally feel like it’s something that needs to be done even more … we don’t do it enough, and I like that the MLS is taking a stand … to have that diversity and inclusion in soccer.”
“Personally, it stuns me some time to see how a lot of people are homophobic or racist,” said Shinyashiki “I feel attacked, I feel hurt, and I always try to use my platform to fight against those people.”
Juneteenth Jerseys Raise Big Bucks for Johnson C. Smith University
If you watch that last video with Andre, he’s surprised when I tell him his game-worn, autographed Juneteenth kit went for around $800 (I was wrong; in the last seconds of bidding the price went up to $980). Proceeds from the auctions went to Johnson C. Smith University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) located a mile from Bank of America Stadium. For a good look at the kits in action, check out this video from Columbus:
The Juneteenth kits raised $13,815 for the HBCU. HBCUs face more financial challenges than the average university, so JCSU is a good choice for the gift. Check out what each player’s kit went for below:
Kristijan Kahlina $1,605.00
Ben Bender $1,410.00
Jaylin Lindsey $990.00
Andre Shinyashiki $980.00
Brandt Bronico $840.00
Guzman Corujo $807.77
McKinze Gaines $760.00
Kamil Jozwiak $725.99
George Marks $600.00
Sergio Ruiz $560.00
Daniel Rios $555.00
Titi Ortiz $541.00
Harrison Afful $500.00
Joseph Mora $470.00
Derrick Jones $460.00
Jordy Alcivar $440.00
Christian Makoun $430.00
Kerwin Vargas $420.00
Anton Walkes $370.00
Jasiek Sobocinski $350.00
Nashville Visits Charlotte Tonight
Charlotte (7-10-2, 23 points) hosts Nashville SC (7-5-6, 27 points) tonight at 7:00 PM EDT. When they hosted Charlotte for a test match in February, Nashville defeated the Crown 3-1 with forward C.J. Sapong picking up a brace and Titi Ortíz scoring Charlotte’s lone goal. Nashville sits in 4th place on the Western Conference table and will be a challenging opponent, but with Charlotte’s strength at Bank of America stadium the match should be a good one.
Outside the pitch, La Femme Footie is hosting a women-led march today in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs case.
See you at Bank of America Stadium tonight!
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