New Mexico United is among three clubs across the USL Championship and League One selected to be part of Common Goal's Play Proud initiative, which launches this week in Seattle. | Photo courtesy Josh Lane / New Mexico United
The USL Championship’s Detroit City FC and New Mexico United and USL League One’s Union Omaha are among eight clubs across five professional leagues in North America that were on Monday announced as part of Common Goal’s Play Proud initiative – football’s leading movement advancing LGBTQ+ inclusion.
Play Proud offers a holistic and collective approach to creating inclusive soccer spaces with a focus on under-resourced and under-represented communities. Throughout 2023, the USL clubs will join counterparts from Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, and the Canadian Premier League to participate in Play Proud’s program of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training with a long-term goal of making the 2026 Men’s World Cup the most inclusive in history.
The announcement of the 2023 Play Proud cohort comes at a time when LGBTQ+ rights have been under attack in legislatures across the United States, including a record number of anti-transgender proposed bills. Play Proud is attempting to counter those efforts and plans to work across every 2026 Men’s World Cup host city and key soccer market with the goal of creating safe and inclusive stadiums, enabling access to soccer programming in underrepresented communities, and upskilling youth-based coaches in trauma-informed practices.
The program includes in-person workshops, starting with the first 50-hour workshop hosted by MLS’s Seattle Sounders FC this week. With pride activations across all eight stadiums in June, the coalition will come together for the final 50-hour workshop in October 2023.
Part of Common Goal's Play Proud in 2023, Detroit City FC was the first sports team in the United States to wear a game jersey supporting LGBTQ+ equality. | Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC
“We aim to be the most consequential club in US soccer, and we are grateful to have a supporter base that shares our values and acts on them,” said DCFC co-owner Alex Wright, who will be part of the club’s delegation in Seattle. “They founded and grew Prideraiser, which every June raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for LGBTQ+ groups around the globe. Accomplishments like that inspire us.”
Passion, inclusion, and support for the community are vital facets of Detroit City FC’s club culture. Le Rouge were the first sports team in the United States to wear a game jersey supporting LGBTQ+ equality. The club has also partnered with the Black Star Initiative to promote soccer within the black community and is growing the City Youth program as a subsidized opportunity for young players to develop a passion for the game free of financial or transportation barriers.
“New Mexico United’s primary objective is to bring people together in ways they’ve never been brought together before, and that means all people,” said New Mexico United President & Owner Peter Trevisani. “We are honored to be chosen to participate in Play Proud, and are excited to bring the best in comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion training back home to make New Mexico United matches a more welcoming place for our LGBTQ+ fans.”
The USL Championship’s Oakland Roots SC and San Diego Loyal SC participated in the Play Proud program in 2022. This year, in addition to the previously mentioned Sounders, the other non-USL clubs include MLS’s Toronto FC, NWSL’s Gotham FC and Kansas City Current, and the CPL’s Vancouver FC.