BOSTON (CBS) — The National Women’s Soccer League will become the first U.S. sports league to resume play in 2020, announcing its plans for the new season on Wednesday. That new season will be in the form of a 25-game tournament for the Challenge Cup.
The tournament is set to get underway on June 27, with all nine NWSL teams playing four games to determine seeding. The top eight teams will then advance to the quarterfinal knockout round.
“As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement regarding Wednesday’s announcement. “This exciting month-long tournament will showcase our league’s talented players and provide our fans the type of world-class entertainment they’ve come to expect from the NWSL.”
The tournament will run for 30 days, with the preliminary games and quarterfinals set to be played at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. The semifinals and final will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
No fans will be allowed at any games, with the league implementing COVID-19 testing measures for players and staff. Those traveling to Utah will be tested weekly during the preseason, with another test required 48 hours before the date of travel to Utah. If a player or staff member tests positive, they will be immediately isolated from the team and placed into quarantine in their own living quarters. No details about testing during the tournament were released, other than there will be “consistent testing, temperature readings, and symptom review throughout their stay in Utah.”
The NWSL and NWSLPA are in agreement on the plan, but there is some rumblings that some players are not in favor of the plan and may choose not to play.