Monday, August 2

MLS veteran Erik Hurtado was traded by Canadian club CF Montreal to team USA after refusing COVID vaccination

In what is believed to be the first player swap in North American sports related to a player’s decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, MLS club CF Montreal traded US forward Erik Hurtado to the Columbus Crew.

The border between the United States and Canada is closed to non-essential travel, complicating Hurtado’s situation. The Canadian government travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic Require that Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and aliens authorized to enter the country must spend 14 days in quarantine upon entering the country if they are not vaccinated. As of July 5, vaccinated travelers who qualified to enter the country were able to do so without quarantine restrictions.

GOLD CUP: See who made the US list.

Since he is not vaccinated, Hurtado would have been forced to remain in quarantine for 14 days each time he returned to Canada after the games played in the USA CF, Montreal sports director Olivier Renard described the situation in the club’s press release announcing the exchange.

“There was some interest in Erik over the last few weeks and we listened to the offers, although we were satisfied with Erik’s work. Because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, his situation was problematic and we began to consider an exchange when we received confirmation that the team could return to Montreal, ”said Renard.

“Before continuing, Erik also confirmed that he was not comfortable with the vaccine, so we concluded this deal, which we found very satisfactory. We would like to thank Erik for his professionalism and wish him good luck in his career,” Renard added. .

CF Montreal is not the only team that recognizes that there could be challenges in managing players who are not vaccinated. Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis mentioned “potential complications for the players who are not fully vaccinated, but we will have to see how things develop ”. Toronto midfielder Nick DeLeon made his intention not to get vaccinated public in March.

The latest on the border situation between the United States and Canada

Cross-border travel restrictions have created challenges for Canadian sports teams playing in the North American leagues, with NBA, MLB, and MLS clubs having to move to the US to establish training bases during their respective countries. seasons.

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The NHL circumvented the restrictions by creating a division comprised solely of its Canadian clubs for the 2021 regular season. It received a special travel waiver from the Canadian government in June for teams crossing the Canadian border for the playoffs. Playoff teams weren’t required to meet the 14-day quarantine requirement, as long as they adhered to the strict guidelines of a modified bubble and did not contact the general public.

MLS officials are in discussions with the Canadian government regarding an arrangement for their teams so that the matches can be held in Canadian stadiums.

The most recent update to Canada’s travel restrictions regarding vaccinated travelers prompted two of MLS’s three Canadian teams, CF Montreal and Toronto FC, to relocate their training bases to Canada after the start of the MLS season. MLS in the US Vancouver is staying at its US base in Utah for now, as all three teams await further developments in cross-border travel.

Why Hurtado’s trade makes sense

Hurtado’s transaction was a practical solution across the board: Columbus needs coverage up front, Montreal comes out with a decent cash loot, and Hurtado, 30, doesn’t have to deal with travel restrictions for the rest of the regular trip. . station.

Hurtado’s addition will help the Crew, who will be without starting forward Gyasi Zardes (USA), winger Derrick Etienne Jr. (Haiti) and attacking midfielder Kevin Molino (Trinidad and Tobago) as they participate in the Gold Cup. Backup forward Bradley Wright-Phillips is dealing with a right hip injury.

Columbus is not scheduled to play another Canadian team in the regular season, so Hurtado will not have to make any cross-border travel.

Montreal was left with $ 200,000 in general allocation money, cash that MLS clubs use to manage player salaries within roster limits. It’s considered a hefty sum when it comes to overall allocation money, even more so when Hurtado is considered to be a backup forward.

Hurtado is a nine-year MLS veteran who can play anywhere on the attacking front. Montreal signed him as a free agent in February and he played seven games for the club (two as a starter). He recorded an assist. He is expected to be available for his new club in hell is a real rivalry game against the Ohio club FC Cincinnati on Friday.

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