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Life Without Soccer: News and Updates for Wednesday, March 18

FIFA holds a conference call to discuss coronavirus, MLS players continue the #StayAtHomeChallenge, and Heather O’Reilly discusses the equal pay lawsuit.

Orlando City forward Tesho Akindele has a unique bond with new Lions coach Óscar Pareja and hopes to build on their past success working together in Dallas. (John Raoux/AP)

Every day MLS, the NWSL and the USL are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pro Soccer USA will provide the latest news and updates, examples of what the soccer community is doing to pass time and some recommendations for readers to keep busy while hunkering down at home.


The Latest

FIFA executives will hold a conference call Wednesday to discuss the world soccer governing body’s response to coronavirus. Among the topics being discussed is moving both Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 — which were scheduled for this June and July — to June and July 2021.

The June and July 2021 window was previously reserved for the FIFA Club World Cup, which is slated to take place in China during that same window. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a prepared statement Tuesday he favors approving the date changes to accommodate Copa America and Euro 2020, but also said FIFA will coordinate with China’s soccer federation to reschedule the Club World Cup.

Other topics up for discussion on Wednesday’s call include: coronavirus’ impact on the international match calendar, FIFA contributing up to $10 million to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and the potential establishment of a Global Football Assistance Fund to help members of the international soccer community affected by the pandemic.

“The world is facing an unprecedented health challenge and clearly a global and collective response is needed,” Infantino said. “Cooperation, mutual respect and understanding must be the guiding principles for all decision makers to have in mind at this crucial moment in time. 

“Particularly in football, finding appropriate and fair solutions at global level is imperative,” he added. “This requires unity, solidarity and a shared sense of responsibility and we need to think of all those around the world potentially impacted by our decisions.  

The international soccer community’s first COVID-19 fatality is Francisco Garcia, a 21-year-old Spanish soccer coach who died from the disease Tuesday while also battling leukemia. Garcia, an Atletico Portada Alta coach from Malaga, only received his cancer diagnosis after going to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms.

Two of Major League Soccer’s newest kids on the block, Nashville SC and a yet-to-be-named expansion franchise in St. Louis, Missouri, took steps toward building their own soccer-only stadiums. Nashville, which is playing in its inaugural season this year, started demolition for its new facility at the city’s fairgrounds Monday. The St. Louis franchise secured $6 million in state tax credits for its new stadium Tuesday.

Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks spoke one-on-one with former USWNT midfielder Heather O’Reilly, who opened up about the equal pay lawsuit against the federation and the coronavirus’ impact on the beautiful game.

Around Town

“If the virus don’t go to Zlatan, then Zlatan will go to the virus.”

That’s how ex-LA Galaxy striker and world soccer superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic closed a message posted to his Twitter account stating he is launching a GoFundMe campaign titled “Kick the Virus Away.” The campaign will send proceeds to the Humanitas Research Hospital in Italy. Ibrahimovic, currently in the midst of his second stint with AC Milan, has donated $100,000 to the cause.

Both MLS’ Portland Timbers and the NWSL’s Portland Thorns announced initiatives to curb coronavirus’ impact on the Rose City community. The clubs created and funded a Stand Together Assistance Fund to pay fan experience and merchandise staff for games missed because of cancelations. The clubs are also donating 1,000 pounds of food to Life UP, a non-profit serving low-income residents in Portland. Mascot Timber Joey will host a virtual children’s reading session every Tuesday and Thursday on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Are MLS clubs homesick? 

It seems so.

One day after Minnesota United FC posted a nostalgic shot of Allianz Arena on their Twitter account, Orlando City SC tweeted a similar photo of an empty Exploria Stadium.

Meanwhile, New England Revolution and U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Matt Turner recorded a video message on Twitter. In it, he said he and his teammates miss playing in front of their supporters. He also urged fans to follow recommended guidelines during the pandemic.

MLS players are continuing the #StayAtHomeChallenge, but not everyone is juggling toilet paper, like Montreal Impact coach Thierry Henry, his players, and their counterparts around the league.

San Jose Earthquakes central defender Guram Kashia did a core workout with his daughter.

How is the USMNT Twitter account passing time? With strolls down memory lane, starting with the 1995 Copa America.

Meanwhile, National Women’s Soccer League players sent well wishes to their fans.

Keeping Busy

Can you name the three clubs that have won the most titles in every major soccer league in the world? Try to do so in under six minutes in this Sporcle quiz.

If you prefer to use your screen time a different way, try streaming some soccer-related content. Netflix has documentaries on Antoine Griezmann, Sir Bobby Robson and Karim Benzema, plus club-focused programming about Barcelona, Juventus and Sunderland. 

The platform also has full season biopics on Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona.

Want to watch an actual soccer game?

Circle your calendar. Soccer. Happening. Saturday.

The W-League is Australia’s top women’s league, and this clash between FC Sydney and Melbourne City pits two former Orlando Pride players against each other.

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