Play Proud 2024

Eight US clubs come together with Common Goal to fight discrimination and make soccer more inclusive ahead of the 2026 Men’s World Cup 

With LGBTQ+ rights under threat worldwide, Common Goal are coming together with eight clubs from across the United States to fight back against discrimination and strive towards inclusion at a time when it matters most. 

For the third consecutive year, Common Goal is taking a collective action approach towards LGBTQ+ inclusion, engaging professional soccer clubs, their supporters and community organizations to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ communities on and off the pitch through their Play Proud initiative.  

To complete Play Proud, clubs, their supporters, and community organizations must commit to a year-long curriculum of LGBTQ+ inclusive training delivered by Common Goal.

The program was launched in 2021 with support from impact sponsor adidas and looks to differentiate itself in the DEI space by offering a holistic and collective approach to creating inclusive soccer spaces with a focus on under-resourced and under-represented communities. 

The 2024 cohort will come together in Atlanta for the first part of its 100 hours of in-person diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training hosted by Common Goal’s community organization, Soccer in The Streets.

The group’s time in Atlanta will be focused on providing clubs and organizations with training, resources, and support to create more inclusive environments in their organizations and wider communities. The workshops will be facilitated in collaboration with 3 subject matter experts; Chris Gibbons from Inside Inclusion, Liz Ward, and Trevor Johnson.  

The 2024 cohort will include clubs from across four different leagues with Real Salt Lake (MLS), Utah Royals (NWSL), Seattle Reign FC (NWSL), North Carolina Courage (NWSL), Ballard FC (USL League Two), Minnesota Aurora FC (USL W League), North Carolina United (USL League One) and Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL League One).  

Each club is partnered with an organization in their communities that is using soccer to combat social issues. The community organization participants are; America SCORES Seattle, Little and Junior Rowdies, North Carolina FC Youth, Soccer In The Streets, SOL of the Cities, and Washington Youth Soccer Foundation.  

By the end of 2024, Play Proud will have trained 25 clubs, supporters' groups, and community organizations across 16 cities.

Recognizing that the world will be coming to North America for the 2026 Men’s World Cup, Play Proud has established a network of LGBTQ+ inclusive clubs, community organizations, and supporters, many of them located in several World Cup host cities.  

"There are a few things that make Play Proud inherently unique," said Luke Fairbairn, Program Manager of Play Proud and Common Goal USA. 

"The stakeholders involved, the longevity of the work, and the intention to community building across the professional and grassroots game.

"For the third year in a row, we are bringing together clubs with their supporters as well as community organizations using soccer to combat social issues.

"The intention is to take a collective action approach to what LGBTQ+ inclusion can look across soccer landscapes.

“We are building a network; a network of inclusive and intentional clubs, supporters, and community orgs across the US all looking to make safer spaces for LGBTQ+ communities.” 

The Play Proud program is part of Common Goal's wider efforts to use soccer as a tool for social and societal change.  

To find out more information about Play Proud visit