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Cancelled tournaments lead to disappointment, questions about where money has gone?

Photo Credit: Beadling SC file photo

With the state of the world we are in right now due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, everything is shut down, closed, cancelled or, at best, postponed.

The world of youth soccer is no different.

The outdoor tournament season typically gets going every March and clicks into full gear as April and May come.

The tournaments are important to the clubs because they are showcase events for the older players trying to find a home for the next part of their athletic career. Younger teams trying to build their resume to move up in rankings to get to bigger tournaments and into higher leagues.

By mid-March, it was all over before things could really get started. 

The Players Showcase in Las Vegas, Baltimore Mania, Jefferson Cup, ECNL events, USYS National League all closed their events due to the spread of Coronavirus.

This is not the end of the world, right? 

No, but there are some concerning issues for the clubs who were registered for these events and leagues. 

What about the money? 

Each tournament has handled it differently. Each tournament has insurance to cover this, so what is the issue. Some tournaments have had their underwriters tell them since this was announced as a pandemic the insurance was void.  Not only do the club teams have to battle for money now, but some of the tournaments are going to be scrambling as well. 

Some tournaments are operated by small companies and have already had to lay people off in response to the pandemic and the. Others operating with a better fiscal management structure have been able to return 100 percent of registration fees.

Tournaments such as the PDA Kickoff and the Nike Challenge Cup have offered full refunds. Which is probably more than any club expected. Crossroads of America Showcase event has been able to provide about 75 percent of the money back to the clubs who have registered and Elite Tournaments have been working with clubs to get a refund of some amount most likely in the 50 percent range. 

Then there is Jefferson Cup. One of the biggest tournaments in the country.

Jefferson Cup is ranked fourth for the boys and sixth for the girls by Got Soccer for events. It takes place over four weekends in which 1,600 players plus teams ascend upon Richmond, Virginia. The tournament was cancelled on March 13, 2020 according to its twitter page.

Jefferson Cup takes in roughly about $1.8 million in registration fees. 

Clubs will spend in some manners upwards of $15,000 to $20,000 sending their teams to participate. 

Each club should be expecting a refund of some sort since it was cancelled, right? 

This is where it gets sticky.

According to their rules page on Jefferson Cup’s website, if the tournament is cancelled for any reason before the tournament begins and before any matches are played, teams are guaranteed a refund of an amount to be determined.

Jefferson Cup stated in an email “with extraordinary circumstances that made us cancel (now postpone) the last 3 weeks of the 2020 Jefferson Cup we have been working diligently to determine a solution and outcome for teams.” 

Their fix to this solution is to move the final three weekends of the tournament that were originally cancelled and now postponed to the following dates.

  • Girls Weekend – July 18-19, 2020
  • Girls Showcase – July 24-26, 2020
  • Boys Showcase – July 31-August 2, 2020

Now, this causes numerous issues for clubs that were looking to attend the showcase weekends for its players over the last two weekends. College programs are starting to report for preseason training. Women’s college teams will be looking to play their first exhibition game the weekend of August 8 or 9, 2020. With the men’s programs starting up right after that. 

How many colleges can afford to send coaches to scout? Especially across the country to Virginia. Will they have it in their budget for 2020 to afford the trip now?

I have witnessed the effects of college coaches on the sidelines at Jefferson Cup. It can be littered with coaches watching players looking to introduce themselves, solidify an offer or find the next player for their program. 

How can they do that now?

It appears Jefferson Cup officials are trying to put the onus back on the clubs protecting their revenue. Each team has until June 15 to confirm their participation.

If they do not decide to attend then they lose their registration fee. 

What if we are not out of this pandemic by July? 

Well, then each club is out of luck.

*should your team choose not to participate, unfortunately, refunds will not be provided. If we do not receive an “All Clear” by June 8, we will have to cancel the three weekends, without any possible refunds.

Many clubs facing uncertain futures

Now soccer clubs across the country are in a quandary what to do. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Beside the soccer aspect, families have their calendars planned so much around soccer, what availability will they have? 

Speaking to one club director, they’ve been spending each day on calls trying to figure all of these unknowns, especially trying to get its members’ money back, as much as possible. Typically, these clubs would be training twice a week, preparing for league and tournaments. 

The trickle down in all of this with each club being brought to a halt, clubs are not paying their coaches right now since there is no soccer to train. Clubs have halted payments from parents. Even if a tournament like Jefferson Cup can proceed, will the clubs have the fields to train on? 

Many clubs utilize area high school fields, and headed into late summer many schools will be utilizing those fields. By the way, Virginia high schools play their seasons in the spring, and not in the fall outside of some of the private schools.

Many soccer parents are left in limbo wondering what kind of return they might see if any depending on their team’s tournament choices. In many cases they need to know their club is fighting for them but they are being handcuffed. 

One club representative expressed concerns about smaller clubs around the country who do not have the funds to keep going. 

Can they make it through this? 

The game is only better with more participation and not limited by restrictions on where you can play. As a parent, before you pick up the phone to ask where your money is, maybe ask them how you can support the club and call the appropriate tournament directors to get the clubs money back.

Here’s hoping that Jefferson Cup can come around, and do the right thing by the clubs, especially with so many in the soccer community from near and far, that are loyal participants and attendees to that event.

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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