ORLANDO, Fla.—Major League Soccer maintained high marks for its racial hiring practices, but showed a slight dip in gender hiring, according to a study released Wednesday.
The University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport's annual Race and Gender Report Card gave the MLS its second straight A grade for race and C-plus for gender, for a combined grade of B.
MLS received a total of 90 points in seven categories for race, matching its total from 2010. In gender, those points fell slightly from 79 in 2010 to 76 this year.
The report also showed that like its professional sports counterparts in Major League baseball, the NBA, WNBA and NFL, the MLS shows its most diversity in the league office.
Inside the league office the percentage of minorities increased from 39 percent in 2010 to 41 percent in 2011. Also, Latinos increased from 26 percent to a record high of 29 percent.
At the team level, the percentage of minority players in MLS also increased to 48 percent, its highest level since the institute started gathering figures on the league in 1998.
Richard Lapchick, the study's primary author, said growth at the team level among CEOs and team presidents is a good sign.
Minority CEO and team presidents increased to 17 percent in 2011, up from 14 percent a year ago. Also, for the first time in three years there was a minority representative among general managers with the presence Jose Domene of Chivas USA.
"I think the league is emphasizing it, and while there is definite growth there is more to be had," Lapchick said. "It's good when there is progress, but the MLS numbers are lower than lot of other sports."
Lapchick said the league is being proactive in that regard, with a "strong package" of diversity initiatives to help recruit minorities.
"MLS soccer is trying to become a reflection of the incredible popularity of soccer internationally," he said. "To project themselves in way they want to do it, it makes MLS to look more like America as it represents the sport."