The Sounders’ partnership with Providence is drawing the ire of fans

RENTON – The Sounders rarely miss with their fans, but it looks like they did this time around.

The club’s history of goodwill among its often-matched-values ​​fanbase seemed to take a hit when the Sounders revealed Swedish Providence as their new shirt partner. The multi-year deal, announced Friday, is estimated to bring the Sounders more than $5 million annually for high-profile exposure via player funds and other marketing means.

The Sounders FC Coalition Council — an elected body representing the team’s season ticket members — issued a statement Monday that cited concerns about “Providence’s policies around abortion rights and equity in the treatment of transgender people and low-income patients.”

“This is a baffling and disappointing decision for the club and runs directly counter to the Sounders’ social impact goals and promises,” the statement read.

In a statement to The Seattle Times, the Sounders said the club “has been actively listening to feedback from members of the Sounders community.”

“We remain proud of our relationship with Providence and all it can do for our region,” the statement continued.

“We also need our community to know that the Club’s values ​​have not changed. We believe that every woman has the right to make health care decisions for herself. Our Club is also unwavering in its support for the LGBTQ+ community, and we are committed to making Washington the safest and most inclusive place to live, work, and play, especially for young people.” Transgender and gender diverse people.

Providence, which merged with the Swedish Health Service in 2012, is a Catholic healthcare organization It does not provide most services related to abortion Because of religious beliefs. Since 2020, the Washington State Department of Health has paid for those services for people who are enrolled in Providence Health Plans, according to the organization’s website.

The nonprofit is currently facing a lawsuit filed in February 2022 by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for Not providing free and discounted medical care for low-income patients. Providence denied the allegations, including when questioned publicly by US Senator Patty Murray in September.

Swedish He is currently being honored The state’s Gender Affirmation Therapy Act that went into effect last year, but the organization was sued in 2017 and I reached a settlement With a transgender man whose necessary medical appointments have been canceled simply because he is transgender, according to the ACLU of Washington.

The partnership is a way to combat misinformation related to the organization, said Melissa Tizon, vice president of national communications for Providence. She noted that the Work2BeWell initiative welcomes transgender youth even though all the health care services they might seek may not be provided by Providence.

“At Oregon, we are developing a youth mental health curriculum, including specialized content to support LGBTQIA+ and transgender youth,” said Tizon. “This population is very welcome in our community even if we don’t provide all the services they are looking for in our facilities. This is a bit of misinformation. There is this notion that we don’t accept or welcome certain people, when in reality that is a big part of the job in Providence – To be able to serve the most vulnerable populations.”

She was caring Announced during a Renton High School rally Organized by Sounders to highlight Providence joining the football team in raising awareness and providing youth mental health services. 15,000 Renton School District students will experience the programs to be completed.

When the team posted news on their social media accounts, most of the responses seemed negative, with many claiming that they would not purchase any merchandise with the Providence logo.

“I don’t think the Sounders will always have patrons with the same values ​​as them,” he said. said Cameron Collins, chair of the Seattle Sounders Alliance Council and the Gorilla Club Supporters Group. “It just kind of surprised me that they would pick a different one. It goes against all the work they’ve done in the last year whether it’s protecting trans individuals, trans youth and with OL Reign… It’s very disappointing to me and very infuriating to a lot of people, especially queer people.” “.

Emerald City Supporters, the largest supporting group, which is anchored at Brougham End of Lumen Field, direct questioning All Sounders owners, including majority owner Adrian Hanauer, wrote in an open letter posted online Saturday. ECS has called for accountability for the “outrageous decision” and has pledged to donate $1 to the NW Abortion Access Fund for every ticket you sell to the ECS division.

The groups leadership spoke with Sounders employees and is scheduled to meet with Hanauer and other senior executives.

“There is no way to undo the damage, but there are ways to mitigate it in terms of increasing investment in communities,” Collins said of what the coalition would like to achieve from the meeting.

Hanauer was asked Friday why the partnership with Zulily was not extended and if it had anything to do with potential hurdles in making mental health an outreach program.

“I’ll leave it to Zulily. He was a great partner,” Hanauer said. “We’re still talking about partnership moving forward, but I’m really excited about this partnership with Providence.”

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