Happy Friday Caps fans. If you, like me, are in the U.S., hope you’re gearing up for a three-day weekend.
If you’re in Canada, well, you’ll have to wait until May for Labo(u)r Day.
UPDATE: Google thought Canada was part of the U.K. when I searched about Labour Day this morning. To all you Canadians: have a great holiday on Monday (not in May)!
Not to end the week on a bleak note but FARE, a group which researches discrimination in world football, published a report on discrimination and a lack of representation for Black and Latinx coaches within U.S. Soccer. The results were, to put it mildly, not good.
Because this is really a Canadian soccer blog I won’t drill down too much on a lot of the results. If anyone has more Canada-specific reaction, I’d love to hear from y’all.
But one thing that is more applicable to a Whitecaps blog is the statistic that only two MLS head coaches are Black (Thierry Henry and Robin Fraser). When the Rapids hired Fraser in June he was only the second African-American head coach in the league’s history, a stunning and embarrassing fact.
The league fares a bit better on the number of Latinx coaches, which currently sits at four and has fluctuated pretty widely in recent years. But given the sheer number of players from Latin America in the country and the poor history that MLS has with reaching out to those immigrant groups in the U.S. this number still isn’t great, when put in proper context.
Those numbers are worse for general managers (2 Black GMs in MLS presently) and owners (none). That’s despite Black players comprising 25 percent of the league’s player pool.
This disparity isn’t quite as bad as in, say the NFL, but it is distressing all the same. And while MLS is far from the only league globally to have this problem (cough cough EPL).
But MLS is, of course, a league which has paid lip service to addressing these sorts of inequities. The Black Players for Change group gives me hope that the league will do more than just talk and move onto some sort of action, whether that is some sort of variation on the Rooney Rule that exists in the NFL or some other way of ensuring that Black/Latinx coaches are getting hard looks for jobs.
Soccer is different than a sport like football—you have a global coaching pool to pull from, greatly expanding your ability to find a diverse array of coaches.
But there are challenges as well. This is anecdotal but in my time watching college soccer at the University of Wisconsin, I recall few college coaches of color. USL has nearly identical issues to MLS. And if someone wanted to go it alone, the licensing process isn’t easy or cheap.
There is a reason why most of the Black coaches in MLS history have been foreigners and many, such as Henry or Patrick Vieira, have been well-known players with sweeping international reputations. It just is easier that way and for ownership groups and front offices that are mostly white, ease is often prioritized. No one is getting fired for hiring Patrick Vieira.
I don’t have all the answers here. I’m guessing you don’t either. But I would encourage you all to read the report (once the link works again, which it wasn’t as of this morning). And maybe this will mean that if (when?) the Caps elect to move on from MDS there will be pressure to ensure a diverse and qualified candidate pool interviewed to replace him. North American soccer deserves no less.
Now onto some links...
Shameless Self Promotion
For what seems like the 5 billionth time, the Caps will take on Toronto FC Saturday night. You probably know what to expect by now but read Sam’s preview anyway. If CPL is more you’re speed, get caught up on what you need to know about the Island Games.
Best of the Rest
JJ Adams on the Caps finally (finally!) playing their homegrown talent
The Caps’ attack has, to put it mildly, sucked as of late. On why attackers like Lucas Cavallini are staying patient
Michael Bradley will not feature against the Caps this weekend—he is out with an MCL strain
The beat goes on with the Lionel Messi “will he, won’t he” drama