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Orlando, Fla. — A diversity report released Wednesday on Major League Soccer finds that the sport improved last year with its racial hiring practices but slid in gender hiring.

The report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida finds a “substantial” increase in racial hiring practices for 2018. The grade for racial hiring was an A with 92.5 points, up 4.3 points from 2017.

But the grade for gender hiring fell again, earning a C-plus with 76.8 points. That was two points lower than 2017 and down from 81 points in 2016.

MLS earned an overall grade of B-plus with 85 points, up 1.5 points from a B in 2017. The league also received an A-plus for “outstanding” diversity initiatives for the ninth consecutive season.

The report used data from last season to review the racial composition of teams and coaches. It also included a racial and gender analysis of management positions within the league office, which provided data to the researchers, and league franchises.

The primary strength was at the league’s headquarters, which earned an A-plus in racial hiring and B-plus in gender hiring. The report stated the front office had people of color filling nearly 39 percent of all professional positions and women filling nearly 41 percent of those roles.

Both of those were up roughly 2 percentage points from 2017.

“The teams need to follow the League’s example more closely,” TIDES director and lead author Richard Lapchick said in the report.

Lapchick said the weakest area came in senior administrative positions for league teams. MLS teams earned a C-plus for racial hiring and a D-plus for gender hiring.

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