MLS Commissioner Don Garber has stressed that any decision to permit clubs to host a limited capacity of fans in home stadiums when the 2020 regular season resumes will be based on local and CDC guidelines as well as compliance with league protocols developed in consultations with infectious disease specialists.
In announcing the first phase of the schedule for the resumption of MLS's 25th season in home markets, MLS said that some clubs may opt to work with local health authorities and government officials to formulate plans for potential limited capacity at certain games where allowed.
"There are a number of states in our country that are allowing a limited number of fans to sports events today," Garber said during a call with media. "Those clubs that are interested in welcoming fans where their states allow, we’ll consider it after they submit a plan and that plan is following the guidelines of our infectious disease doctor and following the protocols established by the states and by the CDC.
"In the event that it passes [those criteria] then we’ll consider it. No plan has been approved to date. That process is just starting. I don’t anticipate that it is going to be a lot of markets in phase one. That process is going to continue as more and more states either decide to allow fans for sports events or some states that have decided to allow them might change their mind."
Without fans in attendance, the national anthem has not been played before games at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. And Garber revealed that the same criteria would be used for determining whether the anthem is played when the regular season resumes in home markets: There will be no anthem if fans are not in attendance.
The Commissioner stressed, however, that the league would continue to support players who wish to use their platform to demonstrate against racial injustice, as was the case in Orlando when all the league's Black players took part in a powerful demonstration prior to the opening game.
"We’re going to continue to work with our players and, it's not just the MLS Black Players for Change, it's all of our players that supported the display of solidarity at the start of our game," Garber said. "No different from our policy in the past, if somebody wants to kneel before the start of the game, we’re certainly going to allow them to do that.
"And, very importantly, in the weeks and months to come we’ll be talking about how we're going to continue to support the efforts of the Black Players for Change in Major League Soccer and the Black employees in the league. We’re working on a wide variety of different programs. I’m encouraged by the communication and the activities that we’re working on together."