Atlanta United President Darren Eales says Major League Soccer still intends to play a full 34-game schedule this season, even though the league will be shuttered for at least two months because of the new coronavirus.

Eales says MLS is more fortunate than other leagues around the world that play the traditional fall-to-spring schedule and may have trouble completing their seasons in such a compressed time frame.

MLS was just two weeks into its season when play was halted March 12 because of the pandemic. The league has set a tentative return date of May 10, though the growing death toll in the United States could force that date to be pushed back.

Eales says everything is on the table, including the possibility of resuming league play in empty stadiums.

“We’re fortunate that we had just started our season,” he said Monday during a teleconference with Atlanta media. “We have the whole calendar year to reschedule the games we missed. The emphasis is on playing all 34 games plus the playoffs.”

MLS will likely schedule more midweek games and push back its MLS Cup championship game into mid-December in a bid to play a full season, according to Eales. He added that the playoffs could begin in mid-November — around the time MLS had been planning its title game.

THE CFL has postponed the start of training camps due to the coronavirus pandemic.

League commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the pandemic has made it unsafe for players and coaches to gather as scheduled.

The league has not given an indication of when camps might open.

Postponing training camps increases the likelihood of the CFL delaying the start of its 2020 regular season.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS General Manager Mike Rizzo says the team has completely left its spring training facility, which is now being used for coronavirus testing.

The National Guard is using parking lots and back fields to check members of the public at the complex the Nationals share with the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Rizzo also said on a conference call with reporters Monday that Nationals Park in Washington “is completely closed.”

The GM said none of the World Series champions’ players has shown any symptoms of COVID-19, so none has been tested for the illness.

AUGUSTA NATIONAL is donating $2 million, split evenly to Augusta University to expand testing for the new coronavirus and to a local relief agency to help those affected financially by the pandemic.

The gift is in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA), the longtime charitable arm for the home of the Masters.

Chairman Fred Ridley says the $1 million to Augusta University will help with telemedicine pre-screening, triple the number of drive-through testing lanes on campus and allow for more supplies and personnel to increase testing from 100 to 1,000 or more tests daily.

The gift to the CSRA COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund goes directly to support relief efforts to those most vulnerable.

“It is our hope these gifts will help address the many challenges brought about by the coronavirus throughout the city of Augusta and the greater region,” Ridley said. “We believe Augusta National has an important responsibility to support and protect the community who has so generously and consistently supported us for many years.”

GOLF CANADA has postponed three regional qualifying tournaments for the RBC Canadian Open because of the new coronavirus.

The tournaments were scheduled for May. There is no word on when they may be rescheduled. The RBC Canadian Open is still scheduled to start June 8 at St. George’s Country Club in Toronto.

THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS are donating an additional $500,000 to help people and organizations affected by the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the organization’s total contributions to more than $1 million.

The franchise donated $550,000 last week and said that money was given to numerous nonprofit organizations that worked in food distribution and also helped support the children of health care workers. The new donation will help those causes in addition to more providing support for the medical and health care fields.

“We are fortunate to not only be in a position to continue to give back, but to be in touch regularly with those in the medical field who can help distribute these funds in a meaningful way,” Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said in a statement. “Whether it is personal protective equipment, critical resources to support health care personnel or technology to provide virtual visits for those currently receiving care, we believe this money can make an immediate impact.”

SOCCER AGENT Jorge Mendes is donating more than 150,000 masks to a Portuguese hospital with the help of José Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and other players.

Mendes has raised the funds for the masks with the help of 25 people, most of them footballers. The donation will be made to the Hospital Santo António in Porto.

Among the players involved were Bernardo Silva, João Félix, Nélson Semedo, Pepe and Renato Sanches.

Ronaldo and Mendes had already funded other donations, including three intensive care units for coronavirus patients at hospitals in Portugal. They said they had also offered ventilators to officials in Madeira.

USA RUGBY has decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because its financial woes have been exacerbated by the coronavirus shutdown.

In financial strife since 2018, USA Rugby’s recent attempt to restructure was set back this month when it had to suspend all activities indefinitely in the face of the pandemic.

The loss of spring and summer membership dues, and sponsorship pullback, has “resulted in significant loss of revenue,” and the sport’s national board and congress agreed on Sunday that filing for Chapter 11 combined with more approved loans from World Rugby were “the best platform to swiftly and efficiently address challenges and deliver a foundation for future stability.”


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