NPSL Is the First National League to Cancels Upcoming Season Due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic
The massive disruption in soccer around the globe is starting to have a permanent impact. Only weeks into the Coronavirus COVID-19 enforced moratorium on games and practice, soccer in American has begun to suffer.
UPDATED: The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is the first soccer league in the USA to cancel its 2020 Spring Men’s soccer season as a direct result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
While the official announcement was made this morning, March 26, it was clear to the market earlier this week that the upcoming men’s soccer season would be canceled by the league. The 94 teams with approximately 2,000 plus players will not play this spring.
Here is the message released by Kenneth Farrell, NPSL Chairman of the Board:
On March 23, the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) extended its ban on soccer activity until April 30, and the CDC last week has recommended there be no group activities for 8 weeks, which coordinates to May 10.
Given these circumstances, the 2020 NPSL summer season, under its current competition structure, has been canceled. This decision was made unanimously by our Board of Directors.
“I have left the door open, if something changes.”Kenneth Farrell, NPSL Chairman of the Board
This action was not taken lightly. Over the past few weeks, the league has spoken to many of its teams and affiliate organizations. Every situation is different and has its own set of circumstances. The NPSL is balancing the immediate needs of its teams and ensuring that there is a successful, thriving league for years to come.
The Impact of the Coronavirus COVID-19 on Soccer is Massive.
“While this was a very difficult decision, we felt that it was best for our teams, players, coaches, supporters, and business partners,” said Cindy Spera, NPSL Managing Director. “It was also a unanimous decision from our Board of Directors. We deeply care about the safety and health of all involved and believe we are making the correct decision based on the current situation. If conditions improve and government restrictions are lifted, we are committed to providing a platform for our teams to take the field. In any case, planning for our fall competition, the 2020 Members Cup, continues.”
While the hopes of Round Robin and friendlies still lingers — if the WHO and CDC change their recommendations because the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 abates and the country’s health returns — the official 2020 NPSL Spring season is a casualty of the pandemic.
Rightfully so, there is massive solidarity in our soccer world, prioritizing the safety and health of players, coaches, and fans above all else.
A lack of sponsorship is another reason games will not be played. A significant number of NPSL reams are sponsored by small businesses that have been forced to close to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
A small change
“Our members are our league,” said Farrell who wants to continue focusing on the future. “We believe our league is in a good place and our goal is to maintain, strengthen and always to have the NPSL be in the preeminent men’s soccer league under the professional level.”
One of the additional reasons for canceling the NPSL season were issues with many of the venues contracted for the Spring season. Several of the NPSL teams received notification of venue cancellations as public parks and high schools’ stadiums are closed in response to the outbreak.
Another challenge of a national league in the USA is the individual state response to the Coronavirus threat. Each states sets its own health guidelines in response to the pandemic.
Teams in states with an extended moratorium on social distancing and sheltering in place could be at a disadvantage — not being able to start practicing or hosting games while other clubs in their conference from different states might be back on the field.
Read in CNN: These are the states different stay-at-home orders
In response to the 495,086 confirmed cased worldwide of the Coronavirus COVID-19 and over 22,295 deaths from this pandemic, states in the USA have announced varying dates projected for returning to the field. While many states are following the CDC’s current recommendations for May 10, other states have extended the moratorium until June making games and practice sessions impossible for some teams.
Just this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) and FIFA announced a joint campaign to slow the spread of COVID-19, ‘Kick Out Coronavirus’ with Carli Lloyd, Alisson Becker, Gianluigi Buffon, Lionel Messi, Yaya Touré, Gary Lineker, Xavi Hernández among others. Reminding everyone that we are all on the same team and that our opponent is the disease, the video’s goal is to raise awareness of the necessary safety protocols.
Soccer has been hard hit by this unprecedented pandemic but we, all of us who love the beautiful game, are passionate, dedicated and determined. We will just have to wait to cheer for our local NPSL teams when they start back up!
The NPSL remains focused on launching the 2020 Members Cup in August. Details about the Members Cup can be found here.