“This partnership, between two global leaders in sport, represents an extraordinary opportunity to bring the sport of soccer to many more athletes, both with and without intellectual disabilities, and introduce Special Olympics to MLS fans everywhere,” said Bob Gobrecht, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics North America.
Gobrecht added, “MLS and Special Olympics share the value of improving the lives of all people through sport, and this partnership demonstrates that Major League Soccer recognizes and respects the legitimate sport abilities, and potential, of Special Olympics athletes.”
“Through our Don’t Cross the Line campaign, MLS has made a formal commitment to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the game,” said JoAnn Neale, Chief Administrative Officer at MLS. “This partnership with Special Olympics offers yet another opportunity to demonstrate that our sport accepts and welcomes all athletes and fans, including those with intellectual disabilities.”
While many MLS clubs have relationships with their local Special Olympics programs, including Unified teams supported by Portland Timbers FC, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, and FC Dallas this season, the Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders FC have been instrumental in growing the Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer exchange program.
“The pioneer programs in Colorado and Seattle have shown what a profound impact this collaboration can have on awareness and involvement in Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer programing. Their commendable dedication to this campaign has set a high standard and we look forward working closely with Special Olympics to replicate that success in MLS markets across North America,” said Neale.