ANN ARBOR – AFC Ann Arbor officials announced on Monday that its men’s team will not participate in this year’s USL League Two season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“This difficult decision was made out of necessity to prioritize the health and safety of everyone at our club, including players, staff, supporters and sponsors,” the club said in a statement.
Club officials said that the health crisis presented too many challenges for the team to compete over the summer. The club is currently consulting with the United Women’s Soccer division’s leadership to determine whether or not the women’s team will compete this year.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have been precautious about our return to play and have followed the guidance and advice of our state’s top medical expert, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun,” Bilal Saeed, Chair of AFC Ann Arbor said in a statement.
“Her leadership has helped save countless lives and she continues to urge people to take precautions in contact sports. When we consider the circumstances in Washtenaw County, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to sit out league play for 2021.”
According to a news release, current guidelines in Washtenaw County state that athletes must wear a face mask at all times, unless it is unsafe to do so and that COVID testing for contact sports is required.
“Under these guidelines and current state restrictions, we cannot in good conscience bring players in for a league season,” the club said in a statement.
“We understand AFC Ann Arbor’s decision to withdraw from participation in the 2021 League Two season,” USL Vice President Joel Nash said in a statement. “Each club must make what they feel is in the best interest of the health and safety of players, fans and staff. We look forward to pursuing their continued participation in League Two going into the 2022 season.”
Though its players have been off the pitch for a year, AFC Ann Arbor have remained an active organization within the community and plans to expand existing projects and introduce new initiatives in the coming months.
During summer 2020, its organization Community Kicks helped pass out more than 30,000 “Learn Soccer” lunch bags to help meet unprecedented demand for food assistance.
For more information about the team and its projects, visit www.afcannarbor.com.