After announcing the suspension of all sanctioned soccer in Canada on 13 March 2020 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Canada Soccer announced its five-stage Return to Soccer Guidelines on 13 May. The majority of Canada Soccer’s 13 Provincial and Territorial Member Associations have submitted their Return to Soccer plans for approval and as early as 6 June, the Member Organizations from the east and west coasts of the country of PEI Soccer Association and BC Soccer will be eligible to Return to Soccer pending the local club’s completion of Phase 5 of Canada Soccer’s Return to Soccer Guidelines.

“For the past 80 plus days, Canada Soccer has worked closely with all stakeholders including our Provincial and Territorial Member Associations to ensure the health and safety of all who participate in the game of soccer in Canada,” said Peter Montopoli, Canada Soccer’s General Secretary. “Starting with the suspension of sanctioned soccer in March, countless hours of thoughtful and measured discussion and planning have gotten us to a place where we are confident we can once again provide a safe sport environment in areas of the country where the provincial and local governments have permitted a return to physical activities.”

Member Associations’ plans for BC and PEI have been approved by the Canada Soccer Return to Soccer Panel led by medical, technical and administrative members of the organization. BC Soccer and PEI Soccer Association’s Member Organizations can consider a return upon completion of the fifth stage of the Return to Soccer Risk Assessment Tool developed by Canada Soccer in conjunction with its Sports Medicine leaders and its Member Associations.

“Over the last 3 months, BC Soccer has been committed to ensuring that health and safety is the priority and to working with our colleagues across the country,” said Jason Elligott, BC Soccer’s Executive Director. “Keeping the membership informed and working collaboratively with provincial bodies, health authorities and our Member Association peers allowed us to develop responsible return-to-soccer plans. There is much work still to be done following these initial and controlled steps forward to get the BC community back to playing soccer.”

The final step in the Return to Soccer Guidelines provides clubs with a self-assessment of their individualized plans for running soccer programing once sanctions have been lifted. The assessment includes an examination of club practices in understanding the up-to-date realities of the COVID-19 situation, provides event organizers a range of questions surrounding emergency preparedness and response plans, investigates stakeholder and partner coordination, asks for an outline of governance and risk communication policies as well as requesting details on specific mitigation measures.

“Our approved Return to Soccer Plan is a result of collaboration with our Member Organizations and we believe that all members will benefit from the Return to Soccer Risk Assessment Tool to ensure that they have addressed specific realities related to operating programming within their communities,” said Peter Wolters, Executive Director, PEI Soccer Association. “We are confident that the local realities in Prince Edward Island and Canada Soccer’s Return to Soccer Guidelines will ensure that participants return to a safe sport environment.”