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MLS Commissioner says players won’t get COVID vaccine before at-risk populations

But, he wants them to be vaccinated eventually as good example.

Portland Timbers v Orlando City SC: Championship - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke with reporters on a conference call Wednesday, and while the discussion was wide-ranging, covering the recent CBA ratified with the MLS Players Association this week, the new start date of the 2021 regular season (April 17, mark your calendars) and additional tidbits, there was also talk about the COVID vaccine and the league.

Garber praised facilities around the league that have been hosting vaccine drives to try and get control over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I was in Miami last week, and as I was driving up to the Inter Miami temporary facility there was hundreds, if not more, cars lined up outside, because the Inter Miami facility is being used as a vaccination site,” Garber explained. “I know a number of our other facilities, particularly one in California, is being used as a vaccination site, [like] so many other sports facilities that you’re all well aware of. I’m pleased about that.”

When asked if the league was planning to make a coordinated effort to vaccinate players and staff, Garber said the league had no plans to undertake such a program. In fact, he said he was adamant that players would not “cut the line” to get COVID vaccines ahead of at-risk groups.

“We have not put our players or our staff in front of anybody who is in need of the vaccine,” he said. “That’s something I felt very, very strongly about. Even if there are so-called ‘leftover vaccines,’ we’ve worked with our clubs to be sure they’re made available to those who have pre-existing conditions or elderly people, those that really do need the vaccine before younger, healthy players and/or staff.”

When asked if MLS would mandate players get vaccinated when they were eligible to get it, Garber said he did not expect there to be a requirement, but that he hoped everyone would in order to set a good example.

“We have not made any decision on whether we’re going to require vaccination of our players. I will say I can’t imagine a world where we would. I don’t think that’s something we would force upon our players. Our teams will make a decision as to what they’re going to do as it relates to the vaccination of their staff.

“I will say I’m encouraged that more and more vaccines are available, and I will say hope that our league, like other leagues, can be a leader in this space, particularly when we have lots of Latino and Hispanic fans, we have lots of Black players and Black fans and I hope amongst those groups, we’ve seen less likely to want to be vaccinated, I hope we can live in a country in the U.S. and Canada where everybody’s vaccinated so we can all be healthy and so we can all get on with some normalcy in our lives,” he added.

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