Coronavirus: MLS suspends season for 30 days

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) celebrates his goal with teammate Michael Bradley (4) during second half CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final action against the UANL Tigres, in Toronto on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Striker Jozy Altidore will likely wear the captain's armband in Michael Bradley's absence when Toronto FC opens the MLS regular season Saturday in San Jose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced it will be suspending match play for 30 days, effective immediately in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement released Thursday the league said it will “communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season” and other events “at the appropriate time.”

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The league said it made its decision after conversation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and other health officials.

“We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.

The announcements comes a day after the NBA announced its suspension of the 2020 season. The NHL said it will make its decision later Thursday.

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Toronto FC players were already at BMO Field ready for practice when training was cancelled Thursday. All players were then sent home.

READ MORE: NHL suspends its season amid coronavirus pandemic

In a statement, the team said it supports the league’s decision and that it will determine its “training plan” in the coming days.

“The safety of our players, staff and fans is our primary concern,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “We completely support the league’s decision.”

The Montreal Impact followed suit and issued a similar statement.

“The Montreal Impact continues to closely monitor this unprecedented situation and supports all measures taken to protect the health our supporters, players, staff, and partners,” the statement said, adding the team thanks its supporters for their understanding.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), who owns the TFC, issued a statement Thursday evening which stated it is in full support of the league’s decision.

“We are fully engaged with each League as they continually work with public health officials to determine next steps and make decisions related to their operations,” the statement read. “MLSE will be an active and supportive partner in those conversations.”

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“The health and safety of our fans, teams, employees and the general public is our highest priority at all times,” said Michael Friisdahl, President & CEO of MLSE. “As we work through this difficult and unprecedented situation, we are thankful for the understanding and support we have received from our fans and partners, including our Leagues and the live entertainment community.

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The company said it is currently finalizing programs which will assist its close to 4,000 part-time and event staff.

“In addition to the suspension of the NBA, NHL and MLS seasons at Scotiabank Arena and BMO Field, and current touring arena shows domestically and internationally, Toronto Rock Lacrosse games and private events at the venues have also been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MLSE LaunchPad will also suspend operations to protect users of the facility.”

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