NEW YORK -- Major League Soccer and its players' union are partnering in an anti-discrimination campaign, a move less than a month after Robbie Rogers signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy and became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major U.S. professional league.
MLS and players said Wednesday they are partnering with a group called the You Can Play Project, founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke in memory of Brendan Burke, his brother and the son of former NHL general manager Brian Burke. Brendan Burke revealed he was gay to his family in 2007. He died in a car accident in 2010.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber calls it "a strong statement that we are a league that stands against discrimination" and says the league will provide "a safe environment where everyone is treated equally, and with dignity and respect."
MLS President Mark Abbott says the program includes educational resources and training that are made available to teams. League executive vice-president JoAnn Neale says plans for the initiative had begun before Rogers signed, and that D.C. United and Toronto already had run public service announcements.
The NHL and its union have a similar partnership.