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NWSL Pride withdraw from Challenge Cup after 10 positive Covid-19 tests

The Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League is withdrawing from the league’s upcoming 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah due to the incidence of 10 positive Covid-19 tests among Pride players and staff.

The positive tests involved six players and four Pride staff members, but the club said all the cases were asymptomatic. In the interest of player health and safety across the league, the Pride voluntarily withdrew from the tournament.

“This was obviously a difficult and disappointing outcome for our players, our staff and fans, however this is a decision that was made in order to protect the health of all involved in the Challenge Cup,” said Amanda Duffy, Pride executive vice president. “While we were all excited to see the 2020 Pride on the the field this weekend, our priority is now making sure our players and staff safety recovery and providing any support wherever and however possible.”

Each of the team players and staff members testing positive will be isolated for 14 days. 

“The guidelines and process that are put in place, including the important protocols and timelines for contact tracing, make it logistically impossible for the club to participate in the Challenge Cup,” said Daryl Osbahr, MD, Pride team doctor and chief of sports medicine for Orlando Health. 

The month-long Challenge Cup, set to begin this weekend at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, was designed to be the league’s return to action in a quarantined environment. But in many parts of the US, particularly Florida, Covid-19 cases are quickly accelerating, causing concern across the sports industry. 

The tournament schedule for the Challenge Cup is being reorganized to reflect an eight-team event.

“The health and safety of our players and staff is our number one priority and our thoughts are with those players and staff fighting this infection, as well as the entire club in Orlando that have been impacted as a result,” said Lisa Baird, NWSL commissioner. “We’re all obviously disappointed, but in the current environment, this is a situation that we have prepared for and we will now adjust our plans and schedules to reflect the circumstances.”

Florida has seen its daily amount of new Covid-19 cases more than quadruple compared to May as Governor Ron DeSantis has pursued an aggressively liberal and much-debated plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Orlando will the site for the upcoming returns to play for both the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer.