The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is returning to action this weekend after the start of its season was delayed due to the pandemic.
However, instead of a full regular season schedule, the season is being shortened into a 30-day tournament that is being called the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, which is set to kick off on Saturday, June 27.
The NWSL Challenge Cup was announced in May to mark a return to play for all nine league clubs. The 25-game tournament is set to be played in Herriman, Utahm without fans. It concludes on July 26.
Some of the sport’s biggest stars such as Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd have opted not to participate in the tournament. The OL Reign and Sky Blue FC confirmed their respective absences in statements shared by the teams.
The Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League announced on Monday in a statement that the team will withdraw from 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup due to positive Covid-19 tests.
In a separate statement, the NWSL revealed that six players and four staff members from the Pride tested positive for coronavirus.
“This was obviously a difficult and disappointing outcome for our players, our staff and fans, however this is a decision that was made in order to protect the health of all involved in the Challenge Cup,” said Orlando Pride EVP Amanda Duffy in the statement.
“While we were all excited to see the 2020 Pride on the field this weekend, our priority is now making sure our players and staff safely recover and providing any support wherever and however possible.”
Players and staff members will be isolated for at least 14 days. Those in close contact with positive team members have been notified and are being monitored for symptoms.