MLS

North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed plans to resume its 2020 season with a tournament in Orlando.

The MLS season has been suspended since March 12 following the COVID-19 outbreak but the league confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that it would return to action this summer.

MLS and the MLS Players Association also agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement, which will run until 2025. The new agreement removes the threat of a lockout and will see players take a five-per-cent pay cut for the rest of the 2020 season.

More details on the dates and competition format for the Orlando tournament are set to be revealed in the coming days.

The Associated Press news agency reports that ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World will serve as the host site for the tournament, which would be contested by the league’s 26 teams.

Squads and a limited number of staff would be based in Orlando and MLS commissioner Don Garber has said that the tournament would last no longer than 35 days.

“Bear with us for a bit while we continue to finalise all the details of the Orlando project,” Garber said, according to the Reuters news agency. “As it relates to returning to our stadiums … I cannot tell you today when we will be returning to our stadiums to play games. That has overshadowed the process.”

MLS teams had only played two games in the 2020 season before the league was suspended due to COVID-19. Reports have suggested that the Orlando tournament will see teams play three group-stage matches, which would serve as regular-season fixtures, before 16 teams advance to a knockout stage, which would be separate from the regular season.

Champions League

UEFA is reportedly considering staging the remaining matches of this season’s Champions League in Germany or Portugal as part of a new-look hosting model.

Istanbul is currently scheduled to host the final of the Champions League but it has been reported that UEFA may look to move the match away from the Turkish city due to the ongoing difficulties caused by COVID-19. The match was initially due to take place last Saturday.

The Associated Press, citing a person with knowledge of the matter, has reported that Germany and Portugal are “contenders” to host the delayed final, with a final decision set to be made during the body’s executive committee meeting on June 17.

The source said that the chosen country would host the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The country would be chosen based on its accessibility for players and officials, with fans unlikely to be able to attend.

Reports in Germany have claimed that Frankfurt’s Commerzbank-Arena could be used if the country is called upon by UEFA, while the Estadio do Luz in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon has also been floated as a potential host.

The Champions League was suspended in March with half of the round of 16 ties still needing to complete their second legs.

Chinese Basketball Association

The Chinese Basketball Association will resume its 2019-20 season on June 20 following an absence of almost five months due to COVID-19.

Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that the remainder of the season will be concluded in Qingdao in the eastern Shandong province, and Dongguan in the southern Guangdong province.

Fans will not be permitted to attend games in the CBA, which will become China’s first major sports league to return following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Image: Josh Hallett