Sporting KC Players - Black Lives Matter Photo

Sporting KC joins MLS Unites in the fight against systemic racism

Sporting Kansas City will show solidarity with Major League Soccer and Black Players for Change tonight when the club kicks off its MLS is Back Tournament campaign against Minnesota United FC at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN app.

Black Players for Change, launched last month on Juneteenth, is an organization comprised of 170 Black MLS players with the goal of evoking systemic change inside the league and across the country. The organization addresses racial inequalities in MLS, stands with those fighting racism in the soccer world and strives to positively impact Black communities in the U.S. and Canada.

Ahead of tonight’s highly anticipated match at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World, Sporting players will support the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing special warm-up tops and MLS Unites patches. The club's captain will also wear a unique armband as part of the initiative.

Black Players for Change Warm-up Tops

Black Players for Change wanted apparel for the demonstration to be created a black designer. Warren Crevalle of the Philadelphia Union designed the tops and owns his own clothing brand. The Black Players for Change shirt message acknowledges and identifies the players affected by racial injustice. These shirts help the league's Black players stand out and to be seen. MLS connected Creavalle with adidas to develop additional apparel items for players around the league to show their support.

Captain's Armband

All clubs in the MLS is Back Tournament will feature captain's armbands that were designed with the support of the Black players in each market. The armband shows uniformity in support of Black Lives Matter while also helping each club express its individuality.

Sporting Kansas City’s captain’s armband features "Black Lives Matter" messaging. The background is a repeat of the Sporting team motto "From Many Paths, We Become One." That message adorns the team locker room both at both Children’s Mercy Park and the Compass Minerals National Performance Center.

MLS Unites Patch

All clubs will wear a special “MLS Unites” patch for their first match of the MLS is Back Tournament. The patch will have the MLS, MLS WORKS and MLS Players Association logos, in addition to a blank space for players to write in the name of a person they want to honor or an inspirational message.  

The person can be an individual committed to driving positive social change and ending racial injustice through the Black Lives Matter movement or a person who has been a victim of COVID-19 or police brutality. Players can also elect to write in a name or message that has significant meaning to them.

Below are the names Sporting Kansas City players have selected for their jersey patches.

#
LAST NAME
FIRST NAME
WRITTEN ON PATCH
5
Besler
Matt
Barb Goebel
27
Busio
Gianluca
Tamir Rice
13
Dia
Amadou
Elijah McClain
28
Duke
Cameron
Ezell Ford
15
Espinoza
Roger
Trayvon Martin
12
Fernandes
Gerso
Michael Brown
23
Freeman
Tyler
Philando Castile
21
Hernandez
Felipe
Ahmaud Arbery
19
Hurtado
Erik
Dominique Dunn
17
Kinda
Gadi
Solomon Teka
26
Lindsey
Jaylin
Walter Scott
36
Martins
Luis
Billy Birmingham
29
Melia
Tim
Botham Jean
9
Pulido
Alan
Raymond Santana
24
Pulskamp
John
Kendrick Johnson
4
Puncec
Roberto
Keith Childress Jr.
22
Reid
Winston
Stephon Clark
7
Russell
Johnny
Amiya Braxton
20
Salloi
Daniel
Eric Garner
1
Sanchez
Richard
Malcolm X
6
Sanchez
Ilie
Joan (father with cancer)
11
Shelton
Khiry
Alton Sterling
16
Smith
Graham
Paul Childs
75
Kuzain
Wan
Breonna Taylor
8
Zusi
Graham
George Floyd
 
Sporting Kansas City players will also take a knee at the start of tonight’s match during a minute of silence. In their words…

“Taking a minute of silence to honor victims has always been a sports tradition. We’re taking a knee and having a minute of silence for all the victims of not just police brutality that we know and don’t know about, but also all the thousands of victims dating since the beginning of slavery.”

Black Players for Change Goals within MLS:

  • To increase diversity hiring in coaching, general manager and executive positions
  • To collaborate on impending league-wide implicit bias training
  • To create cultural and educational initiatives
  • To have input on matters related to Black representation at executive levels of MLS and MLSPA front offices
  • To receive sustained funding of BCP by MLS

Black Players for Change Goals Beyond MLS:

  • To advance the attention to human rights inequalities from protest to programs and policies that address systemic racism.
  • BPC’s areas of focus to positively impact Black communities are social justice reforms in health equality, economic opportunity, and ending structural discrimination.