Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days with immediate effect, making it the latest professional sports league to take drastic measures in the face of the escalating global spread of coronavirus.
MLS said it will provide updates on plans for the resumption of the 2020 season in due course, after consulting with its medical task force and public health officials on the impact of COVID-19.
“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season — based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Agency Canada, and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on Thursday.
The league’s decision is the latest in a series of disruptions to global sports amid concern that large public events will exacerbate the transmission of the illness.
Earlier, the National Basketball Association suspended its season indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the illness.
In Europe, Spain’s top two tiers – La Liga 1 and La Liga 2 – suspended play for at least two weeks after the entire Real Madrid squad was placed under quarantine.
The decision came after a member of Real’s basketball team tested positive for the virus. The football and the basketball teams share the same training facility.
In Italy, Juventus defender Daniele Rugani and Sampdoria forward Manolo Gabbiadini tested positive for the virus. The country’s topflight Serie A has been suspended until 3 April at least amid a countrywide lockdown.
The French Ligue 1 has also been suspended and Thursday’s Europa League ties between Inter Milan and Getafe as well as Sevilla vs AS Roma were cancelled.
European football governing body, UEFA, has called a videoconference meeting of its 55 member associations, plus the boards of the European Club Association, the European leagues and a representative of world players’ union Fifpro to discuss the appropriate response to the outbreak.
There are currently more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the United States and at least 38 deaths. There are more than 127,000 cases worldwide and at least 4,718 deaths attributed to the virus.