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Let’s play FIFA! #UltimateQuaranTeam shocker as Championship star gets himself sent off!

We all thought live football was gone from our lives, but clubs all around the world are signing up for FIFA tournaments — and we’re keeping track of them!

JUMP TO: Asensio steers Real Madrid to FIFA 20 glory

Thursday saw the first batch of Ultimate Quaran-Team round-of-32 ties get underway as Leyton Orient’s isolation-friendly FIFA 20 tournament continues.

However, there was also one last round-of-64 clash to settle too, as Blackburn Rovers faced a replay against Forest Green Rovers in an all-English affair.

Rovers were buoyant coming into the game on the back of a seven-goal thriller against Stoke, in which Bradley Dack scored the winner in the final few seconds to earn a dramatic 4-3 victory.

However, things didn’t go quite so well against Forest Green as Dack turned villain in a humiliating 4-0 defeat that saw the Rovers’ forward get himself sent off!

Into the round of 32, and Reading saw their involvement come to an unceremonious end after losing out 4-1 to Celta Vigo in a game blighted by connection issues.

It took several restarts but ultimately the Spanish side triumphed in convincing fashion — maybe the disruption was all part of their fiendish plan?

QPR also enjoyed a 4-1 canter over Coventry while Wolves (who were also a round behind and playing catch-up) powered past Irish side Sligo Rovers with a clean sheet.

Sheffield United also went tumbling out at the round-of-32 hurdle after narrowly losing to VVV-Venlo, leading an aggrieved Blades fans to call for the manager’s head!

With real football postponed until further notice, Orient organised a huge 128-team competition that has seen real world clubs taking each other on in video game form.

As well as passing the time during a football blackout, the “Quaran-Team” tournament is also raising vital money for charity as well as Football League clubs, many of whom will be facing financial uncertainty in the coming months.

Initially aiming for 64 clubs, Orient had to expand to competition to welcome 128 teams from all corners of the footballing community to create a festival of FIFA football.

There are still plenty of second-round games to be completed before 32 teams head in the hat ahead of the third round, which is scheduled for this Thursday, March 26.

The schedule:

Round of 16: Saturday, March 28, 7 p.m. GMT
Quarterfinals: Monday, March 30, 7 p.m. BST
Semifinal: Wednesday, April 1, 7 p.m. BST
Final: Friday, April 3, 7 p.m. BST

Asensio steers Real Madrid to FIFA 20 glory

The La Liga FIFA 20 tournament reached an exciting finale on Sunday as Real Madrid ran out winners of the inaugural quarantine-friendly competition.

With Marco Asensio at the helm, the virtual Real powered to a 4-2 victory over Leganes (represented by Aitor Rubial) in the final after seeing off Eibar in the semis.

Luka Modric was among the scorers in the final for Asensio’s all-conquering XI, who now have the honour of being the inaugural winners of both the European Cup and this (no less prestigious) online competition.

The championship was organised by Spanish YouTuber and gamer Ibai Llanos and involved players from all of Spain’s 20 top-flight teams.

As well as helping to keep folks entertained in the absence of real football, the event has also helped raise around €142,000 ($152,000) to help in the fight against the coronavirus.

“It has been a spectacular tournament,” Asensio said after securing the win, with which he was clearly delighted.

“The goal was to have a good time, laugh, entertain ourselves in these difficult times for everyone, and donate in the fight against COVID-19, and we have succeeded!”

Whether Asensio will be forced to defend his crown in a second installment of the franchise, only time will tell.

The idea to create a full tourney came about after around 60,000 football-starved fans tuned in to watch a virtual derby between Borja Iglesias of Real Betis and Sergio Reguilon of Sevilla — which saw the former triumph in a dramatic 6-5 win for Betis.

The competition is the brainchild of esports aficionado Llanos, who serves as tournament organiser, host, drawmaster and even live commentatorall while remaining comfortable in his bathrobe at home.

Here’s how the first edition of the competition shook out, in full:

Congratulations to all involved, namely:

Alaves: Lucas Perez
Athletic Bilbao: Gorka Guruzeta
Atletico Madrid: Marcos Llorente
Barcelona: Sergi Roberto*
Celta Vigo: Kevin Vazquez
Eibar: Edu Exposito
Espanyol: Adri Embarba
Getafe: Jason
Granada: Jose Martinez
Leganes: Aitor Ruibal
Levante: Carlos Clerc
Mallorca: Alex Pozo*
Osasuna: Ruben Garcia
Real Betis: Borja Iglesias
Real Madrid: Marco Asensio
Real Sociedad: Adnan Januzaj
Real Valladolid: Pedro Porro
Sevilla: Sergio Reguilon
Valencia: Carlos Soler
Villarreal: Manuel Morlanes

*Clubs had to forfeit games due to their clubs’ deals with PES creators Konami

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USWNT wins SheBelieves Cup as England spirals – Equalizer Soccer

Photo Copyright Valerie Terranova Photography

United States 3, Japan 1

The United States women’s national team defeated Japan, 3-1 on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas, to finish the 2020 SheBelieves Cup with a perfect record and win the home tournament for the third time in five editions.

Megan Rapinoe scored on a free kick in the 7th minute before Christen Press added a second goal on a spectacular chip 19 minutes later.

Mana Iwabuchi pulled back a goal for the U.S. in the second half, but Lindsey Horan added an insurance goal in the final minutes, heading in a cross from Mallory Pugh.

U.S. players warmed up with their shirts turned inside out, hiding the U.S. Soccer logo while still showing the four stars.

U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski made several lineup changes for the match.

Spain 1, England 0

Spain finished second in the team’s inaugural SheBelieves Cup after defeating England, 1-0, on a late goal from tournament MVP Alexia Putellas.

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FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2019 – News – FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2019: Clash of styles with keepers prominent

For FIFA’s Technical Study Group, there were a raft of valuable conclusions to be drawn from the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019, all of which can be found in the tournament’s typically detailed and comprehensive technical report, which is now available on FIFA.com.

In Paraguay, the TSG consisted of Trinidadian Brent Rahim, FIFA Beach Soccer and Futsal Development Manager; Spaniard Ramiro Amarelle, a former beach soccer international; and Canada’s Ross Ongaro, a FIFA coach and instructor in the speciality.

Among the report’s most significant conclusions were the different attacking styles that helped Portugal and Italy to unlock increasingly physical and disciplined defences and claim the winners’ and runners-up’ spots respectively.

While the Portuguese were one of the few teams who banked on building attacks from the back, a tactic they deployed successfully due to the ability of their highly skilled players to find space, the Italians sought to get the ball into their opponents’ half as quickly as possible using counter-attacks often launched by their goalkeeper. This tactic allowed the Azzurri to take full advantage of the remarkable scoring ability of their pivots.

In fact, the role of the goalkeeper was a specific trait analysed in the report. The goalkeeper is already considered one of the main players on the team, as he touches the ball more than any outfield player and frequently decides which play to execute and consequently its tempo.

The report also highlights how coaches have assimilated advances in the game’s speed and intensity, substituting players an average of every two to three minutes. The outliers in this trend were Russia, who made changes on average every 90 seconds, and Italy, with one every three minutes.

The technical report, which underlines the importance of development programmes as a key building block in beach soccer growth, can be downloaded HERE.

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mentoring Man United youngsters my job Prem title still the aim

Juan Mata has said he has taken it upon himself to mentor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s young players at Manchester United.

Mata has been in and out of the team this season after signing a new deal at Old Trafford in the summer, but the 31-year-old, who has been at United for six years, says his role at the club extends off the pitch as well as on it.

“I have been playing in a club, and in English football and professionally for 12, 13 years now so that gives me experience, especially in difficult situations, to behave in a certain way or give advice to the young players,” Mata told the official Manchester United podcast.

“I think he [Solskjaer] values that also. Me as a player, what I can give on the pitch, but also that I will try my best off the pitch for the new players that come, like right now Bruno [Fernandes] and Odion [Ighalo] and for the youngsters that come through the academy like, Brandon [Williams], Chongy [Tahith Chong], Angel [Gomes] and Jimmy [Garner].”

Mata is approaching 600 club appearances during a career that has seen him win almost every major trophy including the World Cup, European Championship and the Champions League.

The only thing that’s missing from his time in English football is the Premier League title but he believes there’s still time to get his hands on a winners’ medal.

“I would love to win it and of course I want to win it before I finish playing,” Mata said. “David De Gea always tells me when he arrived here, I think they lost the Premier League by one point in the first season but in the second season they won. He told me it was incredible.

“And everything was red and it was just unbelievable. I’m counting the days to be able to do that.

“Maybe I will play until my 50s if needed but if I don’t win it it’s alright also. You know I’m not really obsessed about it, it would be very nice to have won almost everything. When people ask me: ‘if you have to choose one?’ it would be the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, Manchester United and Manchester City have pledged a combined £100,000 to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.

The money will fund food banks in Greater Manchester, with United and City donating £50,000 each to the Trussell Trust. The Trust supports over 1,200 food banks for vulnerable people, with food donations on hold on match days following the suspension of the Premier League season.

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This is much bigger than soccer – Equalizer Soccer

The United States women’s national team won a soccer game on a day when sports results didn’t matter at all.

With the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic already putting sports into perspective — the NBA decided during that U.S. game to suspend all play, and NCAA basketball tournaments will be played without fans — the U.S. women warmed up for the match with their shirts turned inside out to hide U.S. Soccer’s logo. The four stars representing the four World Cups they won, however, were still visible from the stitching on the reverse side.

Players were responding to the past few days of events. First, there was U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro’s letter on the eve of International Women’s Day which said the federation offered “identical compensation” to the men’s and women’s teams. Player representatives quickly shot that down as a lie, and the stage was set for a tense Sunday (when the U.S. defeated Spain) which gave way to the truly ugly stuff which has been boiling in private until now.

Court documents which were released late Monday night made it clear that the U.S. Soccer Federation does not value its women’s players. Snippets of depositions from the past several months were revealed in those documents, and in them, U.S. Soccer’s counsel repeatedly makes the point that women’s players don’t do equal work (and thus, by their argument, don’t deserve equal pay) because men are stronger and faster and thus more skilled. The documents laid bare sexism within U.S. Soccer that players long hoped was, at least, only subconscious or unintentional. That benefit of doubt is gone.

It took seven minutes for Megan Rapinoe, named by FIFA as the world’s best player in 2019 and a chief protagonist in adding that fourth star to the shirt last summer, to display her superior skill with a sublime free-kick goal. Nineteen minutes later, Christen Press scored on an audacious chip that’s as skillful and spectacular as you’ll see from any player, any gender.

Cordeiro and U.S. Soccer officials issued a statement that was read live in the final minutes of the ESPNews broadcast of the U.S.-Japan game. In it, Cordeiro apologized for “the offense and pain caused by language in this week’s court filing,” but the statement rang hollow — more of the ‘sorry to have offended you’ variety.

The more detestable stance taken by U.S. counsel in the court filings were the result of months of work in this ongoing legal battle. Those positions were carefully crafted over time in order to try to win this case — one which appears to be costing far more than U.S. Soccer calculated.

On Wednesday, major U.S. Soccer sponsors Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Visa and Budweiser issued statements condemning U.S. Soccer’s position in the legal documents filed two days prior. Within hours, Cordeiro was walking back those harsh statements and making a promise that the federation respects its women’s players. That promise, after the past few days, cannot possibly be taken seriously even by the most objective observer.

Optics have long been with the players in this saga, even if the legal case still needs ruling (the trial is set to begin on May 5). It’s appalling but not at all surprising that it took major sponsors expressing basic and obvious concern over U.S. Soccer’s stance for the federation to suddenly and ostensibly reverse course, or at least apologize. Death, taxes, and money always talking.

Wednesday was a surreal day and surely one of many more to come in the immediate future. It looks like, given public health concerns, we might be staring at an extended period of time without sports as we know them. On Wednesday, we were reminded again — in several ways — how much more there is at stake.

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2014 FIFA World Cup™ – News – #WorldCupAtHome: Revenge tastes sweet for five-star Oranje 

  • #WorldCupAtHome kicked off with the Netherlands’ 5-1 defeat of Spain at Brazil 2014
  • Over the next six weeks, we’ll be showing some of the greatest FIFA World Cup™ matches
  • Relive the Oranje’s stunning group-phase display against the then reigning world champions

Beaten by Spain in the Final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, the Netherlands exacted sweet revenge when the two sides met again in their opening group match in Brazil four years later. It was a match that brought redemption for the Oranje’s Arjen Robben and some unforgettable goals, among them Robin Van Persie’s amazing diving header. In also marking the end of a golden era for La Roja, it was a match that has rightly gone down in World Cup history.

📝 Match facts

Spain 1-5 Netherlands

13 June 2014 | Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador


Spain (Alonso, 27’ pen) | Netherlands (Van Persie 44’, 72’; Robben 53’, 80’; De Vrij 64’).


  • Spain: Casillas (c), Azpilicueta, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso (Torres 62′), Silva (Fabregas 78′), Iniesta, Diego Costa (Pedro 62′)
  • Netherlands: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij (Veltman 77′), Martins Indi, Janmaat, Blind, De Guzman (Wijnaldum 62′), De Jong, Sneijder, Van Persie (c) (Lens 79′), Robben
Andres Iniesta of Spain (L) enters the pitch with player escorts prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands

© Getty Images

🤓 The stakes

It was the first meeting between the sides since the South Africa 2010 Final, a game that was decided by Andres Iniesta’s extra-time strike. La Roja arrived in Brazil intent on continuing their history-making run, having won back-to-back UEFA EURO titles either side of their 2010 triumph.

However, just as Italy had done four years earlier and Germany would do in Russia four years later, Spain saw their world-title defence end with a group-phase exit. And it all began with this meeting against the Dutch, their confidence destroyed after conceding five goals for the first time since 1963.

⚔️ The match

There were there key factors in the Netherlands’ stunning win:

  1. Van Persie’s momentum-changing goal: Spain’s afternoon to forget actually began with them taking the lead through Xabi Alonso’s penalty, and David Silva almost doubled their advantage with a clever chip that Jasper Cillessen did well to claw away. But then Van Persie changed everything in virtually the very next move, flying through the air to meet Daley Blind’s cross and catch Iker Casillas off his line. From that point on it was all downhill for La Roja.

  2. The space behind the Spain defence: Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal knew exactly what he wanted his side to do: dispense with patient possession football and hit long balls in behind Spain’s high defensive line. Nobody executed the plan better than Blind, whose pinpoint deliveries from the left were the source of his side’s first two goals. The counterattack that ended with Robben making it 5-1 also began with a long ball.

  3. Casillas is human after all: One of Spain’s heroes of the hour in the Final four years previously, when he thwarted the Dutch with some miraculous saves and twice denied Robben in one-on-one situations, San Iker was not at his best in Salvador. With his side trailing 2-1, he failed to deal with Wesley Sneijder’s in-swinging free-kick, allowing Stefan de Vrij to bundle in the Netherlands’ third at the far post. The keeper then miscontrolled a back-pass to allow the ever-alert Van Persie to poke in the fourth. And the fifth goal came when Robben’s pace and trickery left him and central defenders Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos floundering.

Arjen Robben (L) and Wesley Sneijder of Netherlands celebrate as Iker Casillas of Spain looks dejected 

© Getty Images

🌟 The star

Van Persie drove the Spain defence to distraction, occupying the space between the midfield and defensive lines and making countless runs in behind the Roja rearguard. Not content with showing his power and quality, the striker also conjured up one of the most memorable moments of the whole tournament with that breathtaking flying header.

🗣️🎙️ What they said

“Incredible! This is a dream come true for the whole of the Netherlands.”
Robin Van Persie

“We played a great game and were compact in defence and direct in attack. We pressed them the whole time and I don’t need to tell you how dangerous Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder can be on the ball.” 
Louis Van Gaal

“I feel bad. I’m upset, but I’m just going to take this defeat on the chin. We mustn’t lose heart. I just can’t explain why we conceded five goals. We’ve never been a defensive side but we’ve always handled that side of things really well.” 
Vicente del Bosque

🔜 What happened next?

Boosted by their big win, the Netherlands embarked on a run to the semi-finals, where it took a stubborn Argentina side and a penalty shootout to deny them a second consecutive Final appearance. Van Gaal’s men nevertheless ended their Brazilian adventure on a high, comfortably defeating the despondent tournament hosts in the play-off for third place.

Spain failed to recover from their mauling and crashed out of the tournament in their very next match, a 2-0 defeat to Chile at the Maracana.

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Alaves: 15 staff members have coronavirus – ProSoccerTalk

DUSSELDORF, Germany — European soccer’s biggest leagues continue to be suspended and players are coming under pressure to take pay cuts.

Sometimes it’s voluntary, like at German title challenger Borussia Monchengladbach, where players approached the club with an offer to take reduced salaries.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule  ] 

Sometimes players aren’t given a choice. In Scotland, Hearts has asked all its players and other fulltime employees to accept a 50 percent pay cut, or contract termination.

The cuts come as clubs across Europe grapple with a sudden shortage of funds. Wage bills for the season were budgeted on the expectation of income from TV broadcast fees, sponsorships and ticket sales, which are all being scaled back.

Germany is leading the way on voluntary cuts.

Gladbach is a surprise title contender and on track for a lucrative Champions League spot next season. If the season isn’t played to the end, it’s not clear how European places will be doled out.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says the players approached the club with an offer of voluntary pay cuts, and the coaching staff, directors and executives have joined in.

“I am very proud of the boys. A clear signal: We are standing together for Borussia in good and bad times,” Eberl said Thursday. He didn’t specify how much of a salary cut they’d agreed to.

Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers said the club and Bundesliga are in their toughest financial situation in more than 20 years because of lost revenue from ticket sales, TV and sponsorship.

Gladbach played a game last week in an empty stadium. The club estimated it lost about 2 million euros ($2.16 million) in revenue by playing without fans.

The German league has said clubs could collapse if the season doesn’t resume. It’s arguing for games in empty stadiums so broadcast and sponsor deals resume to mitigate the financial impact.

At second-tier Karlsruhe, players have agreed on reduced salaries for March, April and May.

“For us as a team there’s no question that we are moving even closer together in the club and want to do our part,” captain David Pisot said. Thomas Hitzlsperger, CEO of Stuttgart, told local newspapers that salary cuts would be on the agenda there too.

Other clubs are enforcing pay cuts.

Scottish club Hearts said all fulltime employees will be asked to take a 50 percent pay cut from April. The only exception will be smaller cuts for those with annual salaries below 18,135 pounds ($21,100).

“I want to assure everyone that these decisions have not been taken lightly. If I was not absolutely convinced that this is necessary for the future sustainability of our business, I would not be asking our employees to face these cuts,” chairman and CEO Ann Budge said Wednesday.

In Switzerland, clubs have asked players to sign up for wage reductions as part of a federal government-backed unemployment insurance program. On Friday, Sion announced it fired nine players – including former Arsenal teammates Johan Djourou and Alex Song – for refusing to agree.

European football’s governing body, UEFA, is trying to help. It’s postponed the European Championship to 2021 to allow national leagues to finish their seasons and keep clubs afloat.

UEFA has extended a March 31 deadline by one month for clubs to show they have no outstanding debts for taxes and transfer fees.

The “Financial Fair Play” system monitors at least three years of accounts for hundreds of clubs that qualify to play in the Champions League and Europa League. Clubs that fail to break even on commercial income and spending on transfers and wages risk sanctions that include being expelled from competitions in the most severe cases.

UEFA said the established rules allow for unforeseen circumstances, which “is taken into account as part of the clubs’ assessment on a case by case basis.”

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MLS extends suspension of season to May 10 due to coronavirus

MLS has extended the suspension of its season to May 10 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the league announced on Thursday.

In accordance with guidelines from the U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which currently ban all gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, the league confirmed that it is extending the suspension of its season.

MLS had previously announced that the season was suspended through March 30, but in light of the updated guidance from the CDC, a revised, later return date was determined to be needed. On Wednesday, the lower tier USL announced that it was suspending its season through May 10.

“MLS remains focused on playing the entire 2020 season and is evaluating all options, including pushing back the end of the season and playing MLS Cup in December, as the league did prior to the 2019 season. The league is also identifying other available dates,” the league said in a statement.

“Throughout this process, MLS will continue to prioritize the safety of our fans, players, employees and partners and to coordinate with federal and local public health authorities as well as other sporting organizations.”

MLS said that at this point, it is still planning to play its entire slate of games, meaning no matches have been canceled as of yet. The latest extension may require pushing MLS Cup — currently scheduled for early November — into December, but the league “is evaluating all options” and also “identifying other available dates” for when the match can be held. MLS had previously held the match in December from 2012-18.

At present, MLS teams are prevented from training through Friday, March 20, but there was no update at this time on if the moratorium might be extended.

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USWNT’s April games, NWSL preseason games canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak – Equalizer Soccer

Photo Copyright Valerie Terranova Photography

U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that it has canceled upcoming United States men’s and women’s national team games and training camps through the end of April “due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.” Additionally, the National Women’s Soccer League has canceled all preseason games.

The U.S. women were set to play Australia on April 10 in Sandy, Utah, and Brazil on April 14, in San Jose, California. The American women are also set to play Germany twice in June and play another two friendlies in July before the Olympics, but every sports event across the globe remains in doubt at the moment. Most major U.S. leagues and sports organizations had canceled or postponed events by Thursday afternoon. MLS suspended the season for 30 days. U.S. Soccer has canceled events through April 30.

U.S. Soccer has not yet officially announced the other four U.S. women’s games. The federation said it “will also look to reschedule the matches with Australia and Brazil in the future.”

New NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird issued the following statement about the cancellation of all league preseason games:

“After receiving guidance from local and state authorities and medical personnel, and with the support of the Board of Directors, the National Women’s Soccer League is canceling the 2020 pre-season match schedule in the wake of the most recent developments surrounding COVID-19. Our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our players, coaches, staff, and fans. We are reviewing all contingency plans related to our regular season schedule and are monitoring developing events and their potential impact. We are deeply appreciative of our fans and partners for their continued support of our league and all our world-class players.”

As of 6:12 p.m. ET Thursday, when that statement was released, only preseason games were canceled and teams were still training. Even training, however, is being taken case-by-case and could soon be re-evaluated. The NWSL regular season is, as of now, scheduled to begin April 18.

The U.S. men’s national team was due to play away to Netherlands on March 26 and Wales on March 30, but will no longer be making that trip. The teams will not hold training camp, either.

All other youth national team and extended national team programming has been canceled with (as of now) the exception of three teams in regional or global events. The U-23 men are supposed to begin Olympic qualifying in Mexico on March 20, while the U-17 women are supposed to begin World Cup qualifying on April 18. The 2020 Futsal Championship also begins on May 1.

“With the health of our players, coaches, staff and fans as our main priority, U.S. Soccer has decided it was in the best interest to cancel the majority of our upcoming domestic and international camps at all levels, including our senior Men’s and Women’s National Team games in March and April, due to the outbreak of COVID-19,” said U.S. Soccer chief medical officer George Chiampas. “We have been in communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local departments of public health, and after those conversations and continuously monitoring the situation, we strongly believe this is the best decision considering the ongoing worldwide health situation.”

USWNT taking precautions as COVID-19 concerns grow

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