CF Montreal announced it will be hosting FC Cincinnati on home turf this upcoming Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The matchup will be the first played at Saputo Stadium since Sept. 9, 2020, after strict COVID-19 public health regulations forced the team to temporarily relocate stateside.
“After all this time away, we are truly happy to finally be able to play at home,” said CF Montreal president and CEO Kevin Gilmore in a press release.
“The past few months have been very difficult for our players and staff, who had to go into exile, but they have shown tremendous resilience.”
The organization cited updated Canadian cross-border public health regulations that came into effect on July 5 for making the home game possible.
The Cincinnati squad, including coaching and technical staff will, however, be required to take a COVID-19 test before leaving the United States and upon arrival in Montreal. Those who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine.
While Montreal soccer fans will be able to take in the action on the pitch, attendance has been capped at 5,000 spectators.
“We can’t wait to see them at Stade Saputo on Saturday,” Gilmore said, noting the patience shown by supporters of the club over the last year.
Tickets will only be available for season ticket members, although 350 seats are being reserved for front-line workers and their families, “as a tribute to their colossal work,” the organization said.
Spectators will have to abide by public health guidelines, with face coverings mandatory to enter the premises. Only when seated will spectators be allowed to remove their masks.
The team is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3-4 record after 12 games.
After hosting Cincinnati, Montreal visits New York City FC (at Red Bulls Arena), the New England Revolution and Inter Miami CF.
Its next home game after that is Aug. 4 against Atlanta United. It is unclear whether that game will be held in Montreal.
“MLS remains in communication with the Canadian government regarding plans for MLS Canadian teams to host their remaining home matches in Canada,” the organization said.
A media report by Sportsnet, however, has cast doubt on Saturday’s game as well.
Citing “sources,” Sportsnet says that the federal government and Public Health Agency have yet to OK the request for Canadian teams to host home games.
— with files from The Canadian Press