The Washington Post Sunday

Spirit forfeits match vs. Reign for covid protocol violations

- BY STEVEN GOFF steven.goff@washpost.com

The Washington Spirit forfeited its match Sunday at Audi Field against OL Reign for “breaches of the league’s medical protocols,” the National Women’s Soccer League announced Saturday.

Per FIFA guidelines, OL Reign was awarded a 3-0 victory and three points.

In a written statement, Spirit president Ben Olsen said the team accepted the decision and apologized to fans. The organizati­on said it had no additional comment.

The league did not disclose any details, but a person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the breaches included at least one player violating coronaviru­s isolation requiremen­ts.

Another person familiar with the situation said the Spirit was prepared to proceed with 15 players — all cleared by the medical staff — when NWSL Commission­er Lisa Baird decided to declare the forfeit.

The decision came a week after the Spirit’s match in Portland was postponed because four Spirit players tested positive for the virus. No makeup date has been announced, and the league has not said whether a forfeiture was under considerat­ion.

According to the NWSL’s medical protocols, a major infraction involves a breach that “directly risks the health or safety of personnel by increasing the risk of covid-19 exposure.”

Several Spirit players are unvaccinat­ed, multiple people familiar with the team said.

The Spirit (6-6-5) has not played since Aug. 29, and because of an upcoming internatio­nal window, it is not scheduled to play again until Sept. 26 against Kansas City at Segra Field in Leesburg. With the forfeit victory, OL Reign, which is based in Tacoma, Wash., and features former Spirit star Rose Lavelle, improved to 10-7-2.

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