Major League Soccer Gets Props for Its Racial and Gender Hiring

Major League Soccer Gets Props for Its Racial and Gender Hiring

Richard Lapchick, Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, released the 2021 Major League Soccer Racial and Gender Report Card earlier this week, extolling praise on the association.

Using data from the 2021 season, the Report Card includes an analysis of the racial breakdown of the players, general managers and coaches. In addition, it includes a racial and gender breakdown of the team owners, management in the League Office, team level management, and team professional staff.

Among the highlights:

*          MLS retained its A grade for racial hiring after improving from 90.7 percent in 2020 to 91.7 percent in 2021. The league also saw substantial improvement in its gender hiring score, going from 69.9 percent in 2020 to 74.7 percent in 2021. This breaks a streak of four consecutive years that the gender hiring score had declined with its highest score since 2018.

*          The MLS League Office continues to have an outstanding record for people of color in men’s professional sport at 40.3 percent, trailing only the NBA. Women held 40.7 percent of the MLS League Office positions. The percentage of people of color decreased by 0.9 percentage points from 41.6 percent in 2020. Women in professional positions at the League Office increased by 1.4 percentage points from 39.3 percent in the 2020 MLS RGRC. Additionally, 18.2 percent of League Office employees were women of color, an increase from 17.0 percent in 2020.

*          MLS had the highest percentage of head coaches of color of any men’s professional sport at 42.9 percent, a 2.2 percentage point increase from 2020.

*          Assistant coaches of color decreased by 9.0 percentage points from 43.2 percent in 2020 to 34.2 percent this year.

*          In 2021, 90.6 percent of all majority owners/investors were white. The 9.4 percent of owners/investors of color included 6.3 percent Hispanic or Latino and 3.1 percent Asian. Women represented 6.3 percent of majority ownership for the second consecutive year.

*          In 2021, there were four people of color (13.8 percent) holding the position of CEO/President, a decrease of 3.6 percentage points from 2020. This included two Hispanic or Latino CEO/presidents, one Asian, and one Black or African-American.

*          In 2021, there were four women (13.8 percent) holding the position of CEO/President, increasing from zero in 2020 and marking the highest point in league history. The four women included: Ishwara Glassman Chrein (Chicago Fire), Danita Johnson (DC United), Shari Ballard (Minnesota United) and Carolyn Kindle Betz (St. Louis City SC).

*          Of all team c-suite positions, people of color increased substantially by 7.4 percentage points from 15.9 percent in 2020 to 23.3 percent in 2021. Similarly, women held 28.8 percent of all c-suite positions, an increase of 4.2 percentage points from 24.6 percent in 2020.

*          The percentage of general managers of color was 18.8 percent in 2021, a decrease from 21.4 percent in 2020. This included 12.5 percent Hispanic or Latino general managers and 6.3 percent who were Black or African-American.

*          The percentage of team vice presidents of color increased significantly from 13.5 percent in 2020 to 19.4 percent, an all-time high for MLS.

*          In 2021, people of color who held team senior administration positions in the MLS decreased slightly to 17.0 percent from 17.1 percent in 2020. The percentage of women holding team senior administration positions increased by 0.5 percentage points from 23.6 percent in the 2020 season to 24.1 percent in 2021. Women of color held just 3.5 percent of these positions.

*          The percentage of people of color in team professional administration roles decreased for the second consecutive year, dropping from 24.9 percent in 2020 to 23.6 percent in 2021. Women holding team professional administration positions increased 0.7 percentage points from 29.9 in 2020 to 30.6 percent in 2021.

*          People of color represented 28.1 percent of athletic trainers in 2021, a decrease of 3.5 percentage points from 31.6 percent in 2020. Women represented 14.1 percent of athletic trainers.

*          This is the first year that TIDES has analyzed the referee/official category in the MLS Report Card. People of color represented 28.0 percent of referees, with Black or African-Americans representing 4.0 percent and Hispanic or Latino representing 18.0 percent. Women comprised 8.0 percent of referees/ officials.