Major League Soccer announced Monday that Sola Winley has been hired as the league's Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.
Winley brings a wealth of experience to the position with a 27-year career that has included tenures with the National Football League, A+E Television Networks and his own consulting and advisory companies.
As part of his role with MLS, Winley will lead the efforts to increase representation, advancement and retention of underrepresented groups in the front offices of the league and clubs, as well as the technical and coaching staffs with the teams. He will also oversee MLS’ initiatives to drive access, exposure, opportunity and participation in soccer in underserved communities, and develop strategies to increase diversity among the league’s vendors and partners.
“Sola’s experience and expertise make him uniquely qualified to lead MLS in our ongoing efforts to establish programs to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in our league office, at the club level, and throughout the sport of soccer,” Commissioner Don Garber said in a Monday statement. “I am confident his insight and strategies will build upon what we have previously done and make MLS an even more inclusive and stronger league moving forward.”
'Lead positive social change'
“This is a moment in our world and our sport where the responsibility of creating lasting initiatives that can make a significant cultural difference is personally important to me,” Winley said. “I am humbled to be Major League Soccer’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and look forward to building on and amplifying the important work that has already begun across the league.
"As the world’s game, soccer is already uniquely positioned to lead positive social change. We will work with all league stakeholders and leverage our platforms to scale impact and together create opportunities to increase access, equity and representation on and off the field. I look forward to working with my colleagues at the league, with the clubs, and leaders across the sport of soccer on programs not only in our MLS communities, but everywhere the game is played.”
MLS Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Winley will report directly to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and will work with the MLS Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which is comprised of MLS owners, leadership from Black Players For Change, league and club executives, coaches and former players. He also will collaborate with members of the league office’s employee resource groups and he will work closely with MLS NEXT, the league’s elite youth development platform, to build upon efforts to create a more aware and responsible youth soccer community.
Soccer for All
Winley's hiring builds upon the league’s ongoing commitment to champion diversity and inclusion. MLS’ Soccer for All initiative will enter its ninth year in 2021, and last year the league unveiled a variety of initiatives to address racism and social injustice in society and in the sport of soccer. As part of those initiatives, MLS pledged to hire the league’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.