UPDATED with more soccer news: Major League Soccer, the U.S. pro soccer league that has just kicked off its 25th season, said Thursday it is postponing its season for 30 days effective immediately, the latest move in the sports world attempting to confront the coronavirus pandemic.
Also today, the CONCACAF Champions League tournament pitting MLS teams against Mexico’s top first division clubs was postponed, and U.S. Soccer announced it has canceled its upcoming national team schedules for March and April, along with most of its training camps.
In Europe, Spain has joined Italy in suspending its regular season play after , and Europe’s governing soccer body UEFA is meeting Tuesday to decide the fate of the marquee Champions League, which has also seen match postponements, as well as Euro 2020 which could move to next year.
All this comes as the NBA postponed its season Wednesday evening after the illness was confirmed in two Utah Jazz players.
On Tuesday, the MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes postponed its March 21 home game against Sporting Kansas City, the second game to be halted due to COVID-19 concerns. The Seattle Sounders had previously scratched its home match with FC Dallas scheduled for the same day.
The Seattle region has been the hardest hit with the virus, with 234 cases and 26 of the nation’s 29 deaths coming in the city’s King County. In the Bay Area, the Golden State Warriors will be the first NBA team to play without fans tonight, in a game against Brooklyn Nets at San Francisco’s Chase Center. The city and county of San Francisco has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people as the crisis grows.
“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said this morning. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”
Sports leagues and events worldwide are increasingly facing pressure to address the coronavirus threat. In the U.S., the NCAA’s major men’s basketball tournament announced Wednesday it would play games in empty arenas save for family and essential personnel, while the majority of its conference tournaments have been scrapped.