A few hours after France’s Ligue 1 became the second high-profile European soccer competition in four days to cancel the remainder of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, French World Cup winner Thierry Henry admitted that he’s not sure what will become of the rest of the 2020 MLS campaign.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the league,” Henry, who was just two MLS games into his tenure as coach of the Montreal Impact, admitted Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “We just have to wait and see and be ready for whatever is going to come our way.”
There is a growing concern on both sides of the Atlantic that as the global health crisis continues, more and more leagues will come to the conclusion that they cannot complete their schedules — even if they’re willing to play deep into July and August. Last Friday, the Netherlands’ Eredivisie scrapped the remainder of its 2019-20 slate after government officials banned sporting events in the country until Sept. 1 on the advice of medical experts.
MLS has already extended its training moratorium on several occasions since the league initially went dark March 12 after just two rounds of games. Commissioner Don Garber has said that the league is willing to get creative to salvage at least some its season, potentially by playing games without fans in attendance and/or at neutral-site venues. MLS Cup could be pushed back by over a month, to late December. Health officials, however, will have the final say.
“I’m sure the commissioner and whoever is involved to make that decision are working extremely hard,” Henry said. “On my side, all I can do is try to keep my team, the staff or whoever, prepared for whatever is going to come our way.”
France has been among the nations hit hardest by Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. The Canadian province of Quebec, which includes Montreal, has reported more infections than any other. Still, the ex-Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls striker isn’t thinking about the crisis in those terms.
“It’s a world problem. We’re all one country right now,” said Henry, who helped France snare the first of its two World Cup titles in 1998. “Wherever you are, we’re all worried about our families, thinking about how everyone is, making sure we’re respecting the rules by staying home.”
Henry was hired by the Impact last December following a short and unsuccessful spell at the helm of AS Monaco, another of his former clubs. He had compiled a record of one win and three draws from in five games, three of them in the CONCACAF Champions League, when MLS shut down. Now he’s not sure when, or even if, he’ll coach another match this season.
“Obviously everything is kind of on standby right now,” he said. “We’re all waiting to see if we’re going to play football again.”
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