Major League Soccer announced Sunday that its players are to stay off the field through March 20 because of the coronavirus, and the National Women’s Soccer League said its players are to stay off through March 22.
Both leagues also said their players are to stay in their respective markets while the training moratoriums are in place.
“MLS is working with public health authorities, in collaboration with the MLS clubs, the MLS Players Association, and in consultation with the other North American professional sports leagues to finalize a protocol that would permit players to access training facilities for rehab or individual training under safe conditions during the team training moratorium,” the league said in a statement.
MLS commissioner Don Garber published a letter to fans on Sunday in which he said the league is “evaluating the options for rescheduling the postponed matches to a later date.”
The league continues to believe that it will be able to reschedule suspended games instead of calling them off.
“During this rapidly changing time, we will take every necessary precaution, and I ask you to do the same,” Garber wrote. “This moment in our history transcends sport. It is a time for all of us to come together and take care of each other. Your support has always meant everything to us, but never more so than now. I thank you and send best wishes to you and your families.”
Also Sunday, Mexico suspended Liga MX after initially ordering games to be played behind closed doors. Sunday night’s Cruz Azul-Club América contest in Mexico City was the last action.
MLS suspended its season for 30 days on March 12, a span that runs through April 11. The NWSL canceled all preseason games leaguewide, and has not yet determined whether its regular season will start as scheduled on April 18. Concacaf halted its Champions League and suspended its men’s Olympic qualifying tournament, which was to begin Friday, and has not yet announced a contingency plan.
In Europe, the only nations whose pro leagues are still running are Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. England’s suspension is through its top four divisions, and while the fifth-tier National League held games with crowds this weekend, that drew criticism.
European soccer governing body UEFA is meeting Tuesday to decide whether to shut down the Champions League and Europa League, and move this summer’s European Championship for national teams to 2021. Italy’s national association made a public call Sunday for UEFA to postpone the Euros.
Elsewhere in the world, Australia’s men’s A-League and women’s W-League are still playing. The latter’s playoff semifinals were this weekend, and some NWSL players who’ve spent the offseason down under were involved. The Houston Dash’s Veronica Latsko scored to give Sydney FC a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory in the first semifinal; and the Orlando Pride’s Claire Emslie helped Melbourne City rout Western Sydney Wanderers, 5-1.