The National Women’s Soccer League is aiming to start its season at the end of June, commissioner Lisa Baird has revealed.
Many North American sports organizations are working on an indefinite timeline to return to action amid the global Covid-19 pandemic. But few have actually given specific dates on when they aim to resume activities.
But Baird’s admission, given in an interview with The Equalizer, in addition to the shutdown of public events in Toronto until July, indicate that professional sports will return later than initially hoped.
“I don’t think I had, or anybody has, a playbook for this,” she said. “I think early on when this started, I was like, ‘oh I’ve been through the Olympic Games and those are always hard places to go to — various places to go to, various crises and scares Zika, the cyber security scare in London, the [Olympics in] Russia or Korea,’ but I don’t think I’ve encountered anything like this.”
Baird admitted that the prospect of starting the season from scratch in the summer will be extremely difficult due to the time it takes to put together a schedule and work out the logistics of venue availability. Many NWSL teams share stadiums with other professional soccer clubs.
“The strategy that we agreed to with our owners is one of principle,” Baird added. “The principles are preserving integrity of the competition, and that’s for the players, the fans and the owners themselves. We want to have a schedule that has a great level of competition. We want to make sure that we play as many games as are safe for the players. So, having the right preseason to make sure that you can get players back into training and competing safely is a principle. So, we’re following the principles rather than any finite number.”
Baird added that player contracts will be honored and no head office staff members have been furloughed.