TopOfTheCircle.com

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Sept. 12, 2021 — No game, lots of shame

There was supposed to have been a soccer game today in the National Women’s Soccer League between the Washington Spirit and OL Reign.

But there won’t be a game played this evening; instead, the Reign, a team playing out of the Pacific Northwest, will be given a forfeit win and credited with three goals scored and three points in the league standings.

The forfeit comes a week after the Spirit’s match against the Portland Thorns was postponed because of a reported outbreak amongst the Washington team. News reports had as many as four Spirit players testing positive for COVID-19.

Further reports have indicated that as many as eight Spirit players having to quarantine for today’s game, and that the quarantines were mostly not for positive tests, but for breaches in league-mandated health and safety protocols.

The forfeit also stands in contrast with last week’s game cancellation against Portland: no forfeit was mandated for last week’s game, an inconsistency that was pointed out in social media immediately after the league announcement.

Today’s cancellation is the latest in a number of negative stories around the beleaguered team, following on the heels of revelations of a toxic team culture which has cost the Spirit the services of a number of players. Too, there was the botched separation of head coach Richie Burke from the rest of the team because of verbal abuse.

The Spirit forfeit comes at a time where attitudes towards vaccination against the Coronavirus are changing. Vaccine mandates are being extended at private businesses such as airlines and medical facilities, and this zero-tolerance approach is being applied in the sporting world.

But it also comes several months after COVID-19 vaccines have been made available to the public. It befuddles me that any professional athlete — not just women’s soccer players — has not yet undergone vaccine treatment.

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