Division II USL Championship has suspended play for at least 30 days in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, announcing its decision Thursday.
Declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, coronavirus—or COVID-19—is raising alarms around the United States as more and more cases and deaths are reported. This has affected a number of professional sports league in the country, including USL Championship, which is suspending play for a minimum of 30 days. In its announcement of the decision, the circuit said that additional updates on the continuation of play will be made at an appropriate time.
“It was very clear from our owners that the health and safety of players, fans and staff was their top priority,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a press statement. “In consultation with local, state and national health authorities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security, we have temporarily suspended match play for a minimum of 30 days.”
Even before Thursday’s announcement, individual USL Championship teams had already had plans altered in some by coronavirus. In light of Washington governor Jay Inslee announcing on Wednesday a ban in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties on gatherings larger than 250 people through at least the end of March, Tacoma Defiance played last night’s home match against San Diego Loyal before an empty Cheney Stadium. Also on Wednesday, Hartford Athletic announced the postponement of its first two home matches, previously scheduled for March 21 and April 4, while San Diego postponed its March 14 home game to comply with the University of San Diego’s decision to limit campus events. (The club plays at USD’s Torero Stadium.)
USL Championship becomes the latest professional sports league in the United States to announce a suspension of some sort as the coronavirus crisis continues. MLS is stopping play for 30 days, while the NBA on Wednesday announced the suspension of its season until further notice after revealing that a player on the Utah Jazz—identified in other press reports as Rudy Gobert—preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. In accordance with that decision, the developmental NBA G-League also suspended its 2019-20 season until further notice.
Image courtesy Memphis 901 FC.
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