MLS, players union finalize 2020 return plans

The Major League Soccer Players Association announced Wednesday that it has finalized plans to resume the coronavirus-ravaged 2020 MLS season following a vote by its membership.

The agreement clears the way for MLS, the top soccer league in the United States and Canada, to return to action next month with a World Cup-style tournament in Orlando, Florida. As part of the deal, the MLSPA also ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that will run through the 2025 season.

The league and its union originally reached a new CBA in February but revised certain elements in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. MLS paused its season on March 12, after just two rounds of games, in response to the global pandemic.

“We recognize that we are all moving forward — as players, as fans, as societies, as a world — into a future that looks much different than the one we envisioned a few months ago,” the MLSPA said in a press release. “We hope our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and a semblance of normalcy.”

The deal avoids what would have been the first work stoppage in league history. According to reports by ESPN and The Athletic, MLS had threatened to lock out its players beginning this week in the absence of a compromise.

Following the tournament in Orlando, MLS is hoping to conclude its season later this year in its own stadiums, almost certainly without fans in attendance. MLS Cup, originally slated for November, could be pushed to late December or even into early 2021 and played at a neutral site.

MLS’s 25th anniversary season will resume next month after the league and its players’ association finalized the plans to return. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)


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