The Orlando Pride have announced that they will withdraw from this summer's NWSL Challenge Cup after a number of positive tests for COVID-19 in their squad and staff.
Six players and four members of staff all tested positive for the virus – all of them asymptomatic – ahead of the tournament's start in Utah on Saturday; and The Athletic report that the positive tests are all thought to have stemmed from 'multiple players' visiting a bar in Florida.
NWSL regulations regarding the coronavirus and isolation mean that the Pride would've been effectively unable to put a squad together for the month-long tournament in Utah, which will continue as planned without the Floridian side.
While Alex Morgan was already out of the tournament after giving birth last month, the Pride's withdrawal means that Brazil legend Marta will be absent – as will World Cup winners Sydney Leroux, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and Emily Sonnett, as well as England international Jade Moore and 90min World Cup columnist Ali Riley.
Bars in Florida reopened earlier in June, but the state has seen a massive uptick in positive test results in the last fortnight; rising to nearly 4,000 new cases in a single day before the end of last week – up from a record just two weeks previous of under 2,000.
In a statement on the organisation's website, NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said: “The health and safety of our players and staff is our number one priority and our thoughts are with those players and staff fighting this infection, as well as the entire club in Orlando that have been impacted as a result.
"We’re all obviously disappointed, but in the current environment, this is a situation that we have prepared for and we will now adjust our plans and schedules to reflect the circumstances.”
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