The Chicago Red Stars need a new opponent for their opening match of the NWSL Challenge Cup on Saturday.
The Red Stars were slated to play the Orlando Pride, but the Pride announced on Monday that they were dropping out of the Cup due to several players and staff testing positive for COVID-19. The Pride said all of the players and staff who tested positive were asymptomatic.
“While we were all looking forward to seeing the Pride return to the field, we are unfortunately facing a decision that is necessary and in the best interest for the health of our players and staff,” said Daryl Osbahr, M.D., team doctor for Orlando Pride and chief of sports medicine for Orlando Health. “The decision goes far beyond just the positives, but also taking into consideration roommates or partners.
“I commend the Club for its diligence and reaction following the initial positive test, as well as how the safety of players and staff was prioritized during this difficult and uncertain time. However the guidelines and process that are put in place, including the important protocols and timelines for contact tracing, make it logistically impossible for the Club to participate in the Challenge Cup in Utah.”
The NWSL announced it will adjust and release a new tournament bracket for eight teams, instead of nine, now that Orlando has dropped out.
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The English Premier League returned today, and to kick things off they showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The first game back featured Aston Villa, Sheffield, no fans in the stands and no names on any of the jerseys. Instead each player wore “Black Lives Matter” on their backs. In addition, both sides and the referee took a knee after the opening whistle was blown, in solidarity with the movement.
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has spoken out supporting anti-racist protests earlier this month. He told BBC, “Just like the pandemic, we want to find a solution to stop it… this is what all these protesters are doing. They are trying to find a solution and a way to stop the injustice they are seeing and they are fighting for their cause.
"As long as they are doing it peacefully and safely and not hurting anybody and not breaking into any stores, they continue to protest in this peaceful way.”
According to the BBC, more clubs throughout the day will wear jerseys saying “Black Lives Matter” as well.
The jerseys also feature a patch supporting the UK’s National Health Service.
As sports ramp up in the United States, could the English Premier League set a template for how to play the game safely, while also empowering players to voice their concerns about racial inequality in America?
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The governor of Arizona has opened his state as a possible home for the return of pro sports, as early as this Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
Per the report, Gov. Doug Ducey said he’s had discussions with the leaders of some of the sports leagues, but did not say which ones. He did say last month that he’d spoken to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about hosting games in Arizona.
The NHL and NBA have previously discussed playing out the remainder of their seasons at hubs or “bubbles,” so Arizona could be an option if that’s the route they take.
Ducey did say that if sports did return in Arizona, they would have to do it without fans in the stands, according to the AP.
Although Ducey said Arizona would be ready to host sports as early as May 16, it’s unlikely the leagues themselves would be ready to resume play that soon.
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