Major League Soccer announced that the league will resume play on July 8th with a World Cup-style tournament involving all 26 MLS clubs. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the MLS suspended its season in March, joining every major sports league in shutting down during the pandemic.
MLS matches will be held without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, a large sports complex within the Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The MLS' television rights are signed to ESPN, along with FOX and Univision. According to CNBC, the TV deals run through 2022 and generate about $90 million per season for the soccer organization.
The "World Cup-style" tournament will hold a continuous schedule of matches almost daily, with most of the matches to be played in the evening.
The restart of Germany's Bundesliga and the UK's Premiere League have offered a framework for the future of the MLS and soccer as a whole during this times. Beginning July 8th, a round of group stage play will commence. Then, a round of 16 will begin starting July 25th Next, the quarterfinal and semifinals will play rounds over the weeks following that. Lastly, the final match will be on August 11th.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber offered a comments about the tournament and the events surrounding the death of George Floyd:
"The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play. We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its Clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long."
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