MLS & Special Olympics Partner to Encourage Acceptance in Football

October 14, 2013

Major League Soccer’s (MLS) community outreach initiative has announced a partnership with Special Olympics to bring football to more athletes with intellectual disabilities.

MLS will help to promote the values and awareness of the Special Olympics throughout the USA’s football community. The partnership will also create Special Olympics Unified Sports, where players with and without intellectual disabilities will play the sport together. These teams will be supported by their respective home-state MLS clubs, and MLS players and coaches will help to train them.

The Unified teams will also travel to games with their MLS counterparts, and play against rival teams, scheduled in conjunction with the MLS games, allowing MLS fans to spectate as well.   

Bob Gobrecht, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics North America, said: “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. 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.”

JoAnn Neale, Chief Administrative Officer at MLS, added: “Through our Don’t Cross the Line campaign, MLS has made a formal commitment to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the game. 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.”