- The MLS Players' Association ratified a new collective bargaining agreement to restart the game in June starting with a Summer Tournament at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
Major League Soccer (MLS) players voted Wednesday to approve the league’s proposed plans to open a summer tournament in Orlando at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, the same complex that the NBA league is planning to resume its season.
The favorable vote by the MLS Players’ Association (MLSPA) ratified the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which warded off a possible lockdown and ended the suspension of the MLS season due to the novel coronavirus. The new CBA provides certainty to the players of competing in the game for the months to come. The official statement by the MLSPA outlined the ratified agreement details, including that the agreement will run through the 2025 season.
The MLSPA had previously announced negotiations with the league’s owners on a revised CBA that included an economic concessions package containing a salary reduction across the entire player pool and reduced bonuses for teams and individual players, along with extensions to the season by a year, and their agreement to participate in the summer tournament.
The league acknowledges the current unprecedented and troubling times faced, stating “We hope our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and a semblance of normalcy. We are committed as a group to doing all that we can — both as leaders in our sport as well as leaders in our communities — to help carry our countries, our communities, our league, and our sport forward,” the statement read.
In late May, Stan Stejskal of The Athletic reported that the “[MLS] league views working with Disney and ESPN as the easiest way to return to play.” Disney’s ESPN complex will serve as the center stage of the summer tournament, and the ESPN network will also broadcast most of the competition. The complex will not allow an audience besides the 26 soccer clubs that will arrive in Orlando on June 24, and with only sixteen teams advancing to the knockout rounds.
The players will be residing in a closed environment at a Walt Disney World resort. The proposed plans stated that the teams would be housed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, the same resort the NBA league and Disney World have agreed to be the likely “primary host resort for the NBA when they resume the season,” reported Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports via Twitter.