By Zac Cornell
As Covid-19 continues to spread across the country, sport leagues have been taking appropriate precautions in order to safely return. The National Women’s Soccer League is the first professional sports league to return to play in the United States, with a bubble-style tournament starting on June 27th. The 30-day tournament, known as the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, is taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah at Rio Tinto and Zions Bank stadiums featuring 25 games without spectators. The players and staff are housed in what is described as a “village” of hotels and apartments near the facilities.
Unfortunately, the Orlando Pride had to drop out of the tournament due to six players and four staff members testing positive for Covid-19 after a few players went to a bar in Orlando. The loss of the high profile team, which includes USWNT’s World Cup winners Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and Emily Sonnett, and six-time world player of the year Marta, was a huge disappointment for the team and their fans. Some team members announced their frustration on social media, like Pride striker Sydney Leroux Dwyer who wrote on Twitter, “I’m heartbroken. The majority of our team and staff worked our a—- off to put us in the best position to play the game we love again. Not just for ourselves but for our families, friends, fans and our city. Good luck to the teams going to [Utah]. Wish we were there with you. Stay safe.”
Other soccer superstars have also opted out of the tournament, including National team World Cup champions Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press due to Covid fears. Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh won’t participate due to injuries.
Despite the complications and obstacles, the country is excited to have some live sports back on television, and other athletes and fans are rooting for a successful experience in anticipation of more sports leagues restarting after a long hiatus.
You can watch the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup on CBS and CBS All Access.