A couple of months ago, no one would’ve expected that Belgium’s Pro League would be at the epicenter of the soccer world, but here we are. When the Pro League’s general assembly meets next Wednesday, April 15, they’re expected to officially call an end to the 2019-20 season, with Club Brugge declared champion. And that could start a chain reaction of cancellations across the continent – which is something UEFA, the sport’s ruling body in Europe, is desperate to avoid if at all possible, with all the major championships left hanging, including the European Champions League, and an estimated $6 billion left on the table. UEFA has responded by threatening to ban Belgian teams from all international competitions if they don’t agree to finish their seasons, which could in turn bankrupt several of the clubs and perhaps the league. And that’s where we stand at press time; more next week.
Here in Austin, construction has been shut down by the city government, then reopened by the governor, since my last column – and at press time, work is back underway at Austin FC’s McKalla Place stadium, albeit under the social distancing and other safety precautions that are required of all “essential workers.” Today, in fact, workers there and elsewhere will observe a national Stand Down for Safety event, a nationwide initiative of the Association of General Contractors “to ensure workers at every construction site understand how to keep themselves, each other and their work sites safe from the spread of COVID-19,” according to a release from the City of Austin Development Services Department.
Elsewhere, Real Salt Lake this week became the first MLS club to lay off and furlough employees, adding that “it will re-staff accordingly” after league play resumes.