A day after it was announced the Supporters' Shield, the award handed out each year to the MLS team with the best regular season record by way of points, will not be awarded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney had some choice words for the decision.
"My players are pissed. It is a huge sign of disrespect to the players," Vanney told TSN's Kristian Jack. "It has arguably been the most difficult season in the history of our league where people have put their health at risk to play and put games on television for fans. This season required a huge commitment from all the teams - people were genuinely afraid for their health. Its a disgraceful decision that delegitimizes the whole idea of the Shield in our opinion. Those made the decision are like kids in a park who take the ball away when the game isn't going their way. It's childish and a symbol that they don't know how sports operates."
TFC, who have already clinched a playoff spot, sit first in the MLS and were in line to capture the Supporters' Shield for the second time in franchise history. They last held the award in 2017
The Supporters' Shield Foundation is responsible for handing out the award and put out a statement on their Twitter account citing a lack of fans being able to attend games due the current COVID-19 pandemic.
"After much consideration and discussion the Supporters' Shield Foundation has decided to forego awarding the Supporters' Shield for the 2020 season," the Foundation said. "This is not an easy decision to make. With the inability for supporters to be in attendance and fill their stadiums with passion, however, we feel as though the current climate goes against the spirit of the Shield.
"The Supporters' Shield Foundation stands with our players and our supporters in knowing that this year has been one of many challenges, and we commend the support and effort given to making the best of the 2020 season as it has been. With no 2020 winner to house the Shield, we will be taking 2021 as a means to spread the word and spirit of the shield across the entire league. We look forward to educating supporters on the the Shield's history and passion, as well as welcoming new supporter groups to MLS. As long as it can be safely done, the Supporters' Shield will be going on tour in 2021 so that as many supporters as possible may be able to see and learn about this wonderful symbol of North American soccer. On behalf of the Supporters' Shield board, we hope everyone remains safe. We look forward to awarding the Shield to the winners of the 2021 season."
MLS responded to the Independent Supporters Council of their decision on Saturday.
"Major League Soccer has been notified by the Independent Supporters Council of their decision to not award the Supporters' Shield this season. Everyone involved in MLS understands that the 2020 season -- like every major professional sports league -- was unprecedented in our history," MLS said in a statement. "The club that finishes at the top of our regular season will have persevered through a highly challenging year. As in previous seasons, this team will be the top seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, earn a berth in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League and receive the bonus that goes to the club that finishes first overall in the regular season standings. Most of all, the millions of people who follow and support our league, teams and players will always remember the club that finished as 2020 MLS regular season leader."