Virus spread keeps Orlando Pride out but NWSL ready for restart this weekend

June 26 – On Saturday, the NWSL Challenge Cup  will kick off the new women’s season in the US, becoming the first team sport to return to play in America amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Orlando Pride will sit out this restart after six players and four staff contracted Covid-19 after some players reportedly visited Florida’s open bars, caught the coronavirus, and transmitted it to their teammates.

“On Thursday, Orlando Pride received test results for the second round of COVID-19 testing for the team’s players and staff, which indicated inconsistencies from previous tests,”  said the club in a statement.

“The Club will conduct a third round of testing as soon as possible in order to come to conclusive results for all members of the team, both staff and players. The Club will provide a further update once all necessary testing is completed.”

The new tests are however very unlikely to reverse Orlando’s withdrawal decision from the competition in Utah because of strict contact-tracing protocols.

The league reconfigured the schedule for the eight remaining teams in the Challenge Cup and will move ahead with the tournament.  Teams and players will be subject to strict health protocols during the competition, including wearing masks and restricted movements. No visitors will be allowed for the duration of the tournament.

Originally, the NWSL was scheduled to stretch from April to October, but the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in the US.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1607177082labto1607177082ofdlr1607177082owedi1607177082sni@o1607177082fni1607177082