FRISCO, Texas – At last, some good news. Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement this morning, June 3, opening the door for an imminent return to play at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.
“We’re excited to have an agreement in place that clears a path for our team to get back to meaningful games,” said FC Dallas President Dan Hunt. “Sports can offer moments to celebrate, something we all need during this challenging time. We’re looking forward to providing our fans those moments as we focus on returning to competitive match play.”
Statement on CBA Ratification: pic.twitter.com/a71SJZRCfA— MLSPA (@MLSPA) June 3, 2020
The new CBA lasts through 2025 and – unlike the original agreement made prior to the start of the season – it was ratified by both MLS and the MLSPA. With negotiations finished, both the league and players can shift the focus to soccer once more.
“We’re professional soccer players and we love playing to game,” said Jimmy Maurer, one of FCD’s MLSPA representatives. “Now that this contract negotiation is done, we can just focus on soccer again—and that’s huge for all the guys. All the details are important and stressful for everyone, but we’re excited to be able to focus on soccer again and do what we love.”
Included in the negotiations was MLS’ long-rumored summer tournament, which commissioner Don Garber confirmed today. While details are still being finalized, fans can look forward to competitive MLS action for the first time since the league suspended the season on March 12.
“We have a return to play plan that we’ve been in discussion with Disney and the Disney Wide World of Sports,” Garber said on a conference call with media. “Collectively, we’ll work to get back to play and deliver for our fans and players the sport they love. I think our fans and the media will be impressed by the technology and the thought that’s gone into test a handful of new concepts.”
Among the tougher parts of the CBA negotiation – as Garber explained – was the players’ concerns about staying in Orlando (and away from their families) for the tournament’s duration—which could last up to 35 days. Still, the commissioner thanked the players for working to get the agreement over the goal line which will see the league return in a new, exciting format.
“As difficult as those conversations were, the players showed great leadership,” Garber concluded. “I applaud what they’ve done to organize themselves, and to be smart, thoughtful, to understand the details of this agreement and advocate for it—and to do it in a very respectful and professional way… (Now) we can move forward, to begin play, to do it safely, to do it quickly, and put ourselves in a position to finish the 2020 season.”