(KEYC) — The largest women’s soccer league in the world announced Thursday it would cancel its summer season due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is gripping much of the world.
The Women’s Premier Soccer League said in a statement on its website that the cancellation of the summer season is an effort to protect the health of its clubs’ players, staff and supporters.
The league had already delayed the start of its regular season in late March, moving the season-opener to May 29 and canceling the playoffs to allow the completion of the scheduled regular-season games.
“We went through all scenarios possible in order to get our players on the field this summer and complete a national season,” WPSL President Sean Jones said. “However, it became apparent that to play matches in certain areas of the country in June and July would be irresponsible and a potential health risk.”
Although the 2020 summer season is canceled, WPSL clubs can still apply for league sanctioning for summer training and friendlies, as long as medical data and state regulations allow a safe playing and stadium environment.
The WPSL is currently seeking alternatives to get its players onto the pitch, even if it won’t be during the summer.
Currently, the WPSL is considering an option for a fall season that would allow players the opportunity to return to competitive games before the end of the calendar year.
The potential of a fall season is, however, contingent on the NCAA’s decision of canceling fall sports, particularly women’s soccer.
The cancellation of the NCAA Women’s Soccer season is crucial for the WPSL’s hopes of having teams return to the pitch this season, as 70% of the league’s players are college athletes.
“Should the college seasons be postponed to the late fall or spring semester, the WPSL is in prime position to provide a structured platform for student-athletes to continue to train and compete in a competitive environment to be properly prepared for their upcoming collegiate seasons,” WPSL Commissioner Rich Sparling said. “However, we do not expect a decision for the next 30-to-60 days.”
During an interview with NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico on Thursday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said that making a decision about the upcoming fall season will be very unpredictable.
“It’s going to be very unpredictable," Emmert said. "We’re relying on federal, state and local health officials, which means this could be very different across parts of the country. The biggest variable here isn’t when we can play a game, it’s when can schools reopen?”