On Monday’s edition of Extratime, NYCFC goalkeeper and Black Players Coalition board member Sean Johnson joined the show to discuss how he views the newly formed group’s purpose. This much is clear: It’s about more than just making things better for black players during the time they are playing.
“I think the thing that we want to focus on is sustainable change,” Johnson said. “And that’s going to be long after we as players are out of this league, for future generations. And not only future generations as well. We’re talking about post-career, what that means.”
That includes, he said, helping bolster the ranks of Black head coaches, assistants, general managers and other club executives. Currently the Colorado Rapids‘ Robin Fraser and Montreal Impact‘s Thierry Henry are the league’s only active Black MLS head coaches. Toronto FC‘s Ali Curtis and New York Red Bulls‘ Denis Hamlett are the league’s only active Black GMs.
“There’s not enough representation within the executive office, within the league, in terms of coaches within the league, coaching opportunities,” Johnson said. “Starting from the bottom up or top down, whatever you want to call it, (one of our goals is) making sure we address every single level as it pertains to racial equity in this league, and making sure the opportunity isn’t something that is hindered by the racial biases that are ever so present in society and in the league as well.”
Johnson clarified that he doesn’t necessarily believe others qualified Black candidates have been consciously discriminated against. Rather, the underrepresentation is part of the systemic biases that continue to show up in all facets of American life.
“It’s a lot easier for some players to transition directly into a coaching job in terms of what the image looks like in an organization or a club, of having a black player in certain positions,” Johnson said. “There’s certain biases that some clubs don’t even realize that they have, that the league doesn’t even realize that it has. When including people in the discussion for jobs, for job opportunities.”