Soccer is the world’s game.
Soccer or football or fútbol – whatever you call it – is the most popular sport in the world.
Sorry, NFL fans, but soccer is king.
Major League Soccer is one of the most diverse leagues in North America. Diverse in race and ethnicity. Diverse in skin color and language. Diverse in thoughts and beliefs. Neither football or basketball, two of the most popular sports in North America, can compare with MLS diversity.
But, as I’ve written before, the meaning of diversity varies from one person to the next. Some only view diversity through the prism of race, which is – let’s be real here – often only a two-race dialogue. Some, through the prism of skin color. Others base it on religion or ethnicity or tribe.
If one person views diversity from an all-races (bi-, multi-racial included) prism while another person views diversity in terms of skin color only, how far will they get in their dialogue? Chances are not very far. Instead, let’s approach diversity from a different point of view.
As of March 2017, there were over 600 players in MLS that represent 67 countries from around the world. In addition, coaches in the league hail from eight different countries.
Think about that for a minute.
67 countries with populations containing various ethnicities, races, religions, tribes, languages. THAT, my friend, is diversity.
Now, before we get too carried away, let’s remember my opening statement: Soccer is the world’s game.
From Benin to Ecuador to Azerbaijan to Japan to the U.S., people all around the world play soccer. A sport that is played by old and young alike is bound to have ample representation in a North American league, right?
MLS clubs like the Colorado Rapids have staff available, if needed, to help ease transition for international players. “All of our players and coaches speak English as well as their native languages,” says Dylan Gannon, Rapids Digital Content Coordinator.
The Rapids currently have nine different countries represented on their club. If a player requires assistance of any kind (language, social media), the Rapids are prepared. “We have people on staff who are bilingual who can help out if need be,” Gannon says. “If players ask a question about social media, we’re more than happy to help them, but otherwise we let them be their own person.
When diverse representation exists, it comes down to communication. For MLS teams, it starts with a common goal – to win the MLS cup. Despite language barriers, varying beliefs (religious, political, other), the common goal unites them all. Says Gannon, “We actually have a great group of guys in the locker room and there aren’t too any issues. Everyone is able to get along really well with each other and it’s interesting to hear everyone’s stories because each one is unique. I feel like that helps bring the team together as they all know that they’ve come so far to accomplish their dreams.”
Unity through a common goal.
It’s the soccer way.