Major League Soccer will leverage a $25 million loan from a coalition of black-owned banks to promote economic fairness and justice.
The partnership announced Thursday with the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation aims to increase capital for banks through earned interest and fees – which in turn creates the capacity for new lines of credit for lending in communities of color .
MLS says this is the first time a major sports league in the United States has made a major deal with exclusively black-owned banks.
Ashley Bell, founder and general counsel of NBBF, said the result will be access to capital for future homeowners, businesses and faith-based organizations.
“So when you talk about why this is important, it’s important because it gives a chance to have a sense of pride in our community, to see that our black banks across the country are able to make a deal with a world-class organization with the most diverse fan base in the world, to be able to say that we can do exactly what Chase, Bank of America or any other bank can do, by coming together,” Bell said. “It’s us working together to prove we’re good enough, we’re strong enough to get a deal done as quickly as anyone else and we did it.”
The loan is part of the league’s efforts to fight racism and champion social justice, announced in October 2020. The league is working with the MLS group Black Players for Change.
Sola Winley, executive vice president of MLS and head of diversity, equity and inclusion, said the funding would be used for strategic investments and priorities, but was not earmarked.
Black Players for Change was founded by Justin Morrow in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd. The group made a powerful statement of unity during the MLS is Back tournament that year in which players stood silent with their fists raised for more than 8 minutes – signifying the length of time police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck before he died.
“I think it was a seed that was planted that I think is starting to blossom and bear fruit, hard work and hard work and sacrifice and dedication from every single member who invested their time, attention , his resources, his sharing, his comments, his likes,” said Quincy Amarikwa, who played in MLS for 11 seasons and is now part of the Oakland Roots. “I think we knew it was necessary and necessary. And I think every day we’re grateful for what we see as a result. We hope to continue to facilitate this in the future.
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