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A story for diversity: San Diego soccer club takes a stand on and off the pitch

In its inaugural season of 2020, players on the San Diego Loyal soccer team faced two ugly incidents in two consecutive games at the end of the season. This true story of diversity advocacy unfolds with an opposing player making a racist comment against a Loyal player in the first game and an opponent making a homophobic comment against an openly gay Loyal player in the second.

“Our team, to their immense credit, decided that they wanted to stick up for their teammates and for what’s right, so they walked off the field,” said Landon Donovan, executive vice president of Soccer Operations and manager of the Loyal, a Union Bank client.

An inspiring diversity story shared by San Diego Loyal EVP, Landon Donovan
San Diego Loyal executive vice president of Soccer Operations and manager Landon Donovan joined his players in taking a stand against racism and homophobia.

Taking a stand for diversity meant forfeiting both games, including one the team was leading with playoff hopes on the line.

“They ultimately felt it was the right thing to do,” Donovan said.

In 2021, the Loyal continued to advocate for diversity in the sport, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and programs that fight homophobia.

“It feels really good to be part of a team with a very strong culture,” said Austin Guerrero, Loyal goalkeeper. “Respect is a major component of our team and I think that idea being shown by us as professional athletes on the field hopefully translates to the community and that’s how we’re continuing to progress the sport.”

The response from the community has been incredible, said Loyal owner Andrew Vassiliadis.

“When you reach out to San Diego and you provide something they love and they want, they give you that love back,” Vassiliadis said.

View the Loyal story of diversity in this three-minute video.

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Written by Erik Battenberg