The National Women’s Soccer League has declared the Washington Spirit’s previously postponed match with Portland Thorns FC a forfeit and slapped the Spirit with a $25,000 fine for multiple breaches of medical protocol, the league announced in a release today.
The match, originally scheduled for September 4, was abandoned after multiple players on the Spirit tested positive for Covid-19. Multiple reports have confirmed that the Spirit’s vaccination rate is lower than the 85% threshold the NWSL had announced all teams had reached, with at least 4 of the Spirit’s roster unvaccinated. According to the Washington Post, three players violated league protocols.
“We, the members of the Washington Spirit organization, sincerely apologize and take full responsibility for breaking protocols that forced our previous two matches to be canceled,” the Spirit said in a statement. “We understand that our actions have serious consequences and that we have let our fans down. Moving forward, we are committed to being better and adhering to all protocols.”
This is Washington’s second forfeit in as many matches, after previously being forced to forfeit their September 12 match versus OL Reign. The Portland match, as the OL Reign match, will be declared a 3-0 loss for Washington and count toward the league standings in accordance FIFA laws. The six dropped points come at a crucial time in the NWSL playoff race; Washington remains in the sixth and final playoff spot with 23 points. Houston Dash are tied with the Spirit on points with 23, and Gotham FC are close behind with 22. With six matches left to play, the two losses may prove hard to make up for a team so precariously on the bubble. The forfeits are just another public relations calamity amid a contentious time in the organization. Venus Sports has detailed the numerous controversies facing the team, including an ongoing investigation into alleged abuse by a former coach, bitter ownership dispute, calls from supporters groups for controlling owner and CEO Steve Baldwin to sell the team and other issues. With so many disasters unfolding all at once, it’s fair to wonder how much longer the organization can sustain amidst the turmoil.
Image Courtesy of Washington Spirit twitter