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Crew GM pens letter to supporters in wake of Coronavirus outbreak

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Days after MLS announced it was pausing the 2020 season, the President and General Manager shared his thoughts and the club response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The last 48 hours in sports have been unlike anything in recent memory. Prior to that point it was impossible to think that some of the world’s elite sports leagues would come to a grinding halt and yet, here we are.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has managed to suspend operations for virtually every major North American sports league as a precaution to contain community spread. The Columbus Crew SC and Major League Soccer weren’t spared from these precautions.

Thursday afternoon the league made the decision to suspend operations for 30 days in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.

This means the Crew’s match Saturday afternoon against Real Salt Lake was a casualty of this decision. Understandably fans were disappointed with many taking their voices to social media to vent their frustration. Players league wide expressed their concern and understanding given the situation with many promising they’ll be back.

Some executives in various front offices issued statements in an effort to communicate with fans. On Friday evening Crew President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko issued a statement sympathizing with fans but echoing safety as the number one priority for the franchise.

Crew SC Supporters,

Let me start off by acknowledging the obvious: these are not easy times. The current pandemic is an unprecedented moment in modern history and as it continues to evolve, we find ourselves adjusting to it every day. You are likely reading this note with at least some uncertainty or uneasiness, but please know that on behalf of everyone at Crew SC: we are thinking of you and your well-being.

As someone who grew up cheering for the Crew from the stands, I realize how difficult it is to find ourselves without a match scheduled over the next 30 days, especially when sports often serve as a sanctuary in times like these. However, as a husband, father, son, neighbor and co-worker, I know this is about a lot more than soccer and sports. This is about the health and safety of everyone in our community, and that is why we stand united behind Major League Soccer’s decision yesterday to suspend the season.

While we of course eagerly await a return to the pitch and to see all of you at MAPFRE Stadium, more than anything we want all community members to be safe.

We want you and your families to be safe. That is our number one priority.

During this pause in our season, we sincerely appreciate the concern you’ve expressed for our players and staff. Naturally, we are encouraging safe health practices for all players and staff and, like most venues, have limited stadium and training facility access to operationally essential staff at this time. As part of this, the Crew SC Shop is currently closed. The Club is also exploring contingencies as it relates to gameday and training facility staff, as well as stadium part-time workers, since we understand that the suspension of play has the potential to significantly affect these individuals.

Supporters, you have always been there for us—through thick and thin—and I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to thank you for your continued support during this difficult time. Together, we will get through this. I continue to be amazed by the leaders throughout various sectors in our community and commend the collaboration and swift action on display to navigate unchartered waters. To all the healthcare professionals out there, we thank you especially for your tireless service and guidance through this period.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available and we look forward to having you—our supporters—return to MAPFRE Stadium as soon as it is appropriate. We are working with the league office to re-schedule the impacted games and we still expect to play a complete season. In the meantime, we urge you to take every necessary precaution to remain healthy, and to keep your families and other community members safe.

Glory to Columbus,

Tim Bezbatchenko

Stay safe Columbus and be (less) massive at least temporarily.