CHICAGO (June 4, 2020) - Chicago Fire FC players are scheduled to begin voluntary small group training on Friday, June 5 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL. Voluntary small group training sessions are the next step in Major League Soccer’s intended return to play, following voluntary individual workouts, which the Fire commenced on Friday, May 29.
The 2020 MLS season was suspended March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The voluntary small group training protocol set by the Fire and MLS prohibits media access to SeatGeek Stadium, restricting access to players and essential staff only. Chicago Fire FC will provide recorded interviews, b-roll footage and photography following the voluntary small group training sessions.
The Fire will have the use of two outdoor fields at SeatGeek Stadium (main stadium field and the team’s regular training field).
On May 28, MLS announced that clubs may begin to use outdoor team training fields for voluntary small group training sessions in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that are created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts. All small group training sessions are voluntary and may not be in conflict with local public health official or government policies.
The small group training sessions will provide an opportunity for players to perform fitness and technical workouts in small groups while maintaining physical distancing protocols, even within individual groups. Earlier today, MLS announced that clubs may begin to use team training fields for full team training sessions in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts. Full team training will be mandatory for all players as teams take the next step toward a return to match play. To clarify, the Fire will commence voluntary small group training sessions on Friday. The Club will eventually progress to full team training sessions in the near future.
Prior to initiating small group training sessions, every team had to submit to MLS a club-specific plan that has been reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff and local infectious disease expert. The Fire’s plan also conforms with regulations within “Phase 3: Recovery” of the Restore Illinois plan. Building on the health and safety protocols implemented for voluntary individual workouts, club-specific plans must adhere to the following guidelines for voluntary small group sessions:
- Clubs must utilize outdoor fields as indoor training facilities remain closed to all players with the exception of those requiring medical treatment or rehabilitation, under the direction of the team medical staff, that cannot be performed from the safety of their residences.
- Clubs may divide each full field into a maximum of two equal halves and may assign a group of players to each full or half field.
- Clubs may clearly define up to six zones per half field, spaced at least 10 feet apart. Only one player may be in a zone at any given time in order to maintain physical distancing standards throughout the session. For clarity, a maximum of six players may be assigned to a single group with each player accommodated in a separate zone.
- During training sessions, players may switch zones within their own group only if another player is not currently in that zone and players must maintain a physical distance of at least 10 feet from all other players and coaches while moving between zones.
- Within a single group, players may pass the ball and shoot on goal; however, all training exercises must allow players to maintain a physical distance of at least 10 feet from one another.
- Players may only train with the other players within their own group and may not interact with other groups. While the groups may not be rearranged during a single training session, clubs may rearrange the combination of players in each group from session to session.
- Coaches and technical staff must wear a face mask at all times and may direct players from the perimeter of the field, never entering the field, while maintaining at least 10-feet of distance from other staff and players.
- Only approved equipment may be used during a training session including balls; small and regular goals; rubber dots; small discs and cones; rebounders; rings; GPS Pods and personal equipment that is not shared between players. Mannequins, poles, bands, weights and ball machines may not be used.
- Goalkeepers may not spit on their gloves and must clean, disinfect and sanitize their gloves after each training.
During small group sessions, clubs must continue to maintain the health and safety protocols implemented for the voluntary individual workout sessions, including:
- Restricting training ground access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan.
- Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.
- Completion of a Standard Screening questionnaire by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.
- Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.
- Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to his designated position on the field, and again on return to the parking lot.
- Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.
- Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after sessions.
- An Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.