NEW YORK, NY – Major League Soccer today unveiled MLS Unites, a league-wide platform that highlights all of the efforts that MLS players, coaches, clubs and the league are doing to address the important messages and programs taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new initiative was launched in partnership with the Major League Soccer Players Association.
As part of MLS Unites, the league will have a series of programs involving MLS clubs, players, coaches, staff, partners, and fans, that will encompass the following:
- Educate and inform fans on the importance of key health and safety messaging.
- Provide some fun and engaging content featuring MLS players that will keep them connected to our fans and drive relevance during the postponement of the season.
- Showcase and celebrate community “heroes,” those who are fighting the pandemic on the frontlines.
“Bringing together our Major League Soccer community, all while staying apart, is the spirit of MLS Unites,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “During this challenging moment in history, I know we can count on the MLS family to come together when we need each other most. Together with our fans, players, teams and partners, we will shine a light on what can be done, and on the heroes leading the way.”
The first element of MLS Unites was unveiled this afternoon with a VIDEO featuring social content from MLS players and coaches. In addition, a website dedicated to the new initiative can be found at mlssoccer.com/mlsunites.
As part of today’s launch, MLS clubs, players, coaches, fans, partners and staff are joining forces on social media to celebrate community heroes fighting on the frontlines and thanking doctors, nurses and all healthcare professionals in conjunction with National Doctors’ Day in the United States. Fans are invited to join the league in MLS Unites with their ideas, work, contributions, and creativity, and on social media using #MLSUnites.
Below is a sampling of how our MLS community is uniting to inspire, inform and engage.
MLS WORKS, the League’s social responsibility platform will highlight those in communities across the U.S. and Canada that are making a difference in the fight against COVID-19 through a Community Heroes program. More details to come at a later date.
In the meantime, MLS encourages our fans and the entire soccer community to use #MLSUnites to share how they are doing their part and recognizing their local community heroes on the front lines including healthcare workers, small business owners and/or other members of the community who are helping us all get through these difficult times. Select stories will be featured weekly through League and club channels.
MLS is consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Canada (HC), infectious disease specialists and other public health entities to receive and share the most updated information and guidance. An essential guide about COVID-19 information for all fans can be found at mlssoccer.com/2020/covid-19 including a six-step graphic on how to prevent the spread, along with mental health information and coping tips, ways to support relief efforts and more.
MLS is joining with its media partners in the U.S., Canada and throughout the world to bring a robust programming plan to fans over the coming weeks. MLS is leveraging technology to bring the soccer community together during this time of social distancing through an enhanced fan engagement plan featuring dynamic programming and groundbreaking new content experiences. Each week classic MLS matches and new original programming will air across partner broadcast and digital channels as well as across MLSsoccer.com, the MLS app and MLS social channels.
Fans are encouraged to stay connected to their club and the MLS community through player chats, live-at-home workouts, classic games and more. Additionally, eMLS will be rolling out a robust programming lineup in the coming weeks with both esports players and MLS players.
A sampling of how clubs are impacting local communities is detailed below. For more information on “MLS Unites,” visit MLSsoccer.com/MLSUnites.
“MLS Unites” Club Impact
- Atlanta United – Atlanta United owner, Arthur Blank, and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation committed nearly $5.4 million in funding for immediate and long-term recovery assistance to organizations providing critical support throughout Georgia and Montana. The Foundation will grant $5 million to The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund established by United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
- Austin FC – Austin FC and Upper Ninety, a program of 4ATX Foundation, have teamed up to develop and share via social media family resource lists, guiding those who need assistance in the greater Austin area to the right places, people and organizations who can help. Following a donation to Austin Community Foundation’s Stand With Austin Fund, designed to support nonprofits, individuals, and small businesses impacted by the cancellation of SXSW, Austin FC will be featuring a series of information and resources designed to empower community members who wish to help others. Austin FC is also leading an initiative to support Founding Partner St. David’s HealthCare’s staff by partnering with local food and delivery services to feed healthcare workers when they complete their shifts. Finally, Austin FC is supporting Central Texas Food Bank’s mobile food drive to keep Austin’s most vulnerable families fed during this time of need.
- Charlotte MLS Team - Charlotte MLS owner David Tepper, through the David A. Tepper Foundation, donated $2.65 million to help the local community in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition, the Foundation is supporting relief efforts in other parts of the country. The local charitable donations were announced to the COVID-19 Response Fund (launched by Foundation For the Carolinas and United Way of Central Carolinas), the Atrium Health Foundation, the Novant Health Foundation and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Foundation.
- Chicago Fire FC – Chicago Fire FC is supporting the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund and the American Red Cross. In collaboration with the City of Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago launched the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund to unite the funds raised by Chicago’s philanthropies, corporations and individuals to be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the region. The Fire is also raising awareness that blood donations are desperately needed in the state of Illinois. Donating blood products is essential to community health and eligible donors are strongly urged to donate during the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued shelter in place declarations.
- FC Cincinnati - The FC Cincinnati Foundation is accepting donations to support West End neighborhood families during the current COVID-19 public health crisis. All funds collected – 100% of all donations – are earmarked for the student meal initiatives at Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, Hayes Porter, and the St. Joseph School, all of which are located in the West End.
- Colorado Rapids – The Colorado Rapids and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), along with other Colorado-area venues, donated food to We Don’t Waste, the Rapids food recovery partner. Rapids fans may visit coloradorapids.com/how-get-involved website for numerous volunteer opportunities, such as delivering hot and frozen meals to homebound seniors through Meals on Wheels.
- Columbus Crew SC – Columbus Crew SC Investor-Operators and Haslam Sports Group founders Dee and Jimmy Haslam, on behalf of the Haslam family, pledged $1.5 million to COVID-19 relief funds throughout the state of Ohio. Black & Gold players have also participated in safe-health practice PSAs about #StayatHome, as well as the importance of proper hygiene and hand-washing. The Club has created at-home activities for supporters to encourage social distancing, including: a Kids Corner (arts and craft activities), detailed analysis of 2020 matches, instructional workout videos and registered dietician meal planning recipes.
- D.C. United – D.C. United’s First Team has come together to launch a player-led effort, #UniteTheDistrict, to raise funds to support the Club’s part-time workers and the greater Washington, D.C. area in our continued fight against COVID-19. Money raised from the #UniteTheDistrict effort will be donated to D.C. United’s hourly matchday staff and local nonprofit, Martha’s Table, to aid their mission of supporting strong children, strong families, and strong communities, especially during this time of increased need. While we can’t be together, it doesn’t mean we can’t still be United.
- FC Dallas – FC Dallas, the FC Dallas Foundation and corporate partners are launching a variety of initiatives to support its fans and community. The club delivered food to Frisco Fastpacs, a non-profit organization that delivers weekend meals, to kick off their ‘Taking Care of Those Who Take Care’ and to ensure they do not go hungry when school is not in session.
- Houston Dynamo – In Houston, the Dynamo and BBVA Stadium donated all of the unused meat and produce from postponed matches to Open Door Mission, a local relocation and rehabilitation facility dedicated to helping Houston's homeless population. Dynamo Charities, the club's non-profit arm, is working with several of the club's corporate partners to organize a significant donation to Houston-based healthcare and service organizations on the front lines.
- LA Galaxy – The LA Galaxy launched the TO𝕲ETHER AT HOME campaign, a club-wide initiative to support, engage and inform LA Galaxy fans and the Los Angeles community amidst effects from COVID-19. The campaign includes donations to LA Regional Food Bank, free virtual urgent care visits courtesy of Dignity Health, an Instagram Live concert featuring MURS and more.
- LAFC – LAFC teamed with the LAFC Foundation and Legends to donate fresh fruits and vegetables to community partner Union Rescue Mission. On Sunday, LAFC raised over $5,000 for Los Angeles based charities battling COVID-19 through the LAFC Foundation when it hosted the L.A. Charity FIFA Challenge, as LAFC’s Martin “RemiMartinn” Oregel defeated the Galaxy’s Giuseppe “GGGodfather” Guastella in an e-sports rivalry match-up. In partnership with Banc of California, LAFC is creating an online hub that will feature financial, educational, and health and wellness resources available to the Los Angeles community. LAFC is also working with partner BODYARMOR to donate product for staff and patients in need at Kaiser-Permanente and CLIF to donate product to the community for those in need.
- Inter Miami CF – On Saturday March 28, Inter Miami CF players Rodolfo Pizarro, Lewis Morgan, Julián Carranza and Lee Nguyen participated in a FIFA 20 tournament as part of Twitch's Stream Aid 2020, a special event to benefit the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund during 12 straight hours of online entertainment. 120k viewers joined Inter Miami's FIFA 20 tournament stream while contributing to the overall $2.8 M in funds raised in Stream Aid 2020. Earlier on March 23, Inter Miami altered the club's logo to separate the iconic white herons, which are normally interlocked, across its digital platforms to encourage social distancing.
- Minnesota United – MNUFC is working with its community partners and players in the hopes of making a positive impact in this time of need. MNUFC and Delaware North Services donated nearly 2,000 pounds of food from Allianz Field to the Aliveness Project and Second Harvest. The Minnesota United front office is working with Allina Heath to create and donate hand-sewn facemasks to our local Allina-affiliated care centers. In partnership with our local government, MNUFC and its players are creating a PSA to support the statewide #StayHomeMN campaign. Midfielder Ethan Finlay set up a fundraiser through the Sheridan Story to help feed more than 1,000 kids in the Twin Cities, matching donations up to $1,300. Minnesota United is providing funds to the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative (NUFC) to assist businesses in their efforts to survive the economic shutdown.
- Montreal Impact – The Club has taken on a leadership position in the community and have launched the #IsolatedTogether movement which encourages fans to stay home. Continuous messaging, including dedicated content and contests are being released as the situation evolves, always aligned with the message from local authorities. Also, in an effort to amplify messaging from local authorities, the Montreal Impact launched COVID-19 dedicated social media handles that are strictly utilized as a source of useful information for the public.
- Nashville SC – Nashville SC is raising funds to support the United Way of Greater Nashville’s COVID-19 Response Fund which will deploy resources to help those who are experiencing lost wages or have become ill from the virus. In addition, the club has set up the Grocery Box in partnership with Renasant Bank and Fat Bottom Brewery, two of the club’s official partners, to provide meals to displaced workers of downtown Nashville’s music, food and service industry.
- New England Revolution – In partnership with Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots, and the Boston Uprising, the New England Revolution launched the ‘Together While Apart’ campaign. More details about the Revolution’s efforts for this campaign will be announced soon, but current plans include assisting with medical needs, food distribution initiatives, as well as partnerships with local community organizations. The club has also begun providing player content and instructional skill videos to help young fans stay fit and active while at home.
- New York City FC – New York City FC has created the Stay Healthy, Stay Home platform to connect NYCFC fans, players and staff and mobilize outreach across New York City. This will become a place where the NYCFC Family can come together to share ways to help the local community as well as connect initiatives that will educate, provide relief, keep connected and raise awareness.
- New York Red Bulls – The Red Bulls are working with the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, which aims to raise funds, organize and coordinate resources to fight the medical, social and economic impact of Covid-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens. On Monday the club launched its "Thank You Heroes" campaign, working in concert with several of its partners to assist Metro area-based healthcare and service organizations on the front lines, along with local small businesses.
- Orlando City SC – While social distancing, Orlando City is utilizing social media and web platforms as a way to keep our fans engaged remotely with the club and up to date on all important information. In addition to posting updated league and governmental news as it happens, City is posting a weekly roundup video featuring the club’s reporter, that recaps the current mandates as well as highlights of the players’ individualized, at-home activities. In addition, Spectra - the food service provider for Exploria Stadium - donated 1500 lbs. of food to the Christian Service Center for Central Florida. A larger project is currently in the works that will empower the Club and its fans to give back to the local community that may have been impacted by this unprecedented situation.
- Philadelphia Union – The Philadelphia Union have established a Game Day Employee Assistance Fund tofinancially assist part-time game day staff due to the postponement of the Major League Soccer season. The Union is donating stadium food to local charities and are looking to donate gloves and parking lot space to healthcare facilities in need. In addition, Philadelphia Union players have posted videos and words of motivation to fans as well as messages of appreciation to healthcare workers. Players are urging fans to stay home and are showing how they are practicing social distancing.
- Portland Timbers – The Portland Timbers have announced a number of community initiatives, including the ‘Stand Together Assistance Fund,’ to assist staff members and individuals in the Portland area affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Real Salt Lake – Feeding the Frontlines Fund – The club is working with club healthcare partners to accept donations to provide meals to hospital workers and staff on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to accepting donations for meals, the RSL Foundation will also be accepting games, puzzles, etc. for a donation to the VA Hospital. Yard Care Services in Surrounding Areas –The RSL Foundation together with the RSL Grounds Crew have organized an initiative to mow the lawns of senior citizens in an effort to minimize outside exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic beginning on April 1.
- Sacramento Republic FC – Sacramento Republic FC is providing support for families facing new challenges, supporting the small business community, as well as stepping in to bridge connecting non-profits and the communities they serve with the resources needed to get through the local shelter in place guidelines. Through the club’s social channels, players are leading backyard skill workout videos, hosting children’s story times for families working from home, and providing a musical moment to lift supporters’ spirits. To support local businesses and employees, the club is highlighting local specials and small businesses. Republic FC Midfielder Rodrigo Lopez is working with NFL star Arik Armstead to encourage supporters to take advantage of takeout and curbside delivery for local eateries. The club’s volunteer corps comprised of players, staff, and supporters will join local partners to deliver goods and groceries to seniors, support the local food bank operations during this critical time, and distribute meals for students who rely on school lunches for daily nutrition.
- San Jose Earthquakes – The San Jose Earthquakes are raising money to support the Alum Rock Child Nutrition Program, a local organization providing free meals to individuals under 18. Funds go towards safety materials for volunteers and staff, supplies and meals, and support for day-to-day and operational necessities during this crisis. Nearly $10,000 has been raised, with donations received from numerous Quakes players. The total amount received will be matched by the Quakes Foundation.
- Seattle Sounders FC – Seattle launched the Seattle Sounders FC Relief Fund, aimed at supporting individuals, non-profits and small businesses in the neighborhoods surrounding CenturyLink Field, that have been impacted by the postponement. The Hanauer Family is also providing an initial investment of $500,000 to the fund. The Sounders, along with Seafair, Seattle Seahawks, The Bite of Seattle, the Seattle Mariners, the Seattle Storm and the Washington State Fair joined forces to create the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” campaign regarding the small steps fans can take now that could help stop this virus in the community.
- Sporting KC – Sporting KC and the KC Sports Commissions are working with local professional sports teams to educate fans and spread awareness. Sporting KC is focused on supporting and amplifying the community efforts of the club’s corporate partners – including Children’s Mercy (providing free lunches for all local children), Blue Cross and Blue Shield (providing free online health and wellness resources) and Hallmark (providing one million free greeting cards).
- St. Louis’ MLS Team - Since the beginning, Saint Louis’ MLS team has been committed to being a good neighbor on and off the pitch. The ownership group has and will continue to support local community efforts, including local COVID-19 relief efforts, and will share more information as it becomes available.
- Toronto FC – The five major sports franchises in Toronto created the ‘Team Toronto Fund.’ Team management, coaches and players from the five teams are personally contributing to the fund to provide additional aid to the many workers that support them. MLSE also donated 27,000 pounds of food to those in need and Toronto FC filmed PSA’s in partnership with Toronto Public Health about the importance of handwashing, staying home and social distancing.
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Whitecaps FC’s efforts began by donating team meals from postponed matches to the Metro Vancouver Food Bank. Among other initiatives, every night at 7 p.m. as Metro-Vancouver erupts with a city-wide balcony salute to front line workers, the club highlights one such worker on social media with the club’s #FrontlineHeroes initiative. Whitecaps will conduct a variety of fundraising efforts including an online auction in support of Providence Health Care & St. Paul’s Foundation, Food Banks Canada, Covenant House Vancouver and the BC Centre for Disease Control Foundation.