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Diane Scavuzzo

Arizona Youth Soccer Enters Phase 4 – Competitive Games With Less Than 50 Spectators

The long-awaited return of youth soccer is finally here … in Arizona. Progress is possible, even in areas that only weeks ago reported record numbers of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

Gone are the days of a crowded sideline and players hugging in groups after a goal, but at least competitive games in the state of Arizona will start being played after a long suspension due to the Coronavirus COVID-19.

US Youth Soccer’s Arizona Soccer Association (ASA) has moved to Phase IV of the state’s of our Return-to-Play guidelines effective August 17.

The entire Arizona Soccer Association and its member have continued to demonstrate their commitment to minimizing the spread of the pandemic, and returning to play in a methodical manner — and, are now able to benefit from all their efforts.

Moving into Phase IV comes with great responsibility and is a decision that is not being made lightly.

“Arizona Soccer Association (ASA) is very excited to move into Phase IV, return to competitive games,” said Rick Kelsey, Chief Executive Officer Arizona Soccer Associations.

“It has been the continued commitment and discipline of all Arizona clubs, coaches, players, and families that have adhered to the defined guidelines and protocols that have made returning to competition in Arizona possible,” said Kelsey. “Ultimately, with the continued evolution of this pandemic, Arizona Soccer Association is confident in the guidelines and protocols that have been developed in partnership with our member clubs with a maniacal focus on providing opportunities for our youth players to get back on the field and compete safely.”


“As we have done since mid-March, ASA will continue to monitor developments and provide the required support to our clubs, coaches, players, families, and the communities that we live and play in.” added Kelsey.

Phase IV is defined by the following activities and restrictions:

ASA has continued to monitor the developments in Arizona and have sought input from various organizations at the state, county, and municipal levels, as well as with other state associations nationally who have returned to play. We are confident that moving to Phase IV is appropriate based on the downward trends in COVID cases, the fact that Arizona has seen the R Naught score continue to decline and lead the country, and the commitment of the ASA membership to adhere to defined guidelines and protocols.

Along with the review of data and results ASA has also been in contact with the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS). We reached out DCS to gain additional perspectives on overall child safety, as not all the 45,000 children who register with ASA have the same situations at home. After reviewing the ASA Return-to-Play guidelines and the three-step Return-to-Competition guidelines, DCS gave their endorsement that it would be in many children’s best interest to return to playing.

Mike Faust, Director Arizona Department of Child Safety shared that “with kids currently unable to attend in-person school it is important that they be able to participate in structured organizations that promote social, emotional, and physical development and security. ASA is a recognized community organization that requires all members to complete and pass a background check, as well as complete SafeSport certification, which provides training to coaches and volunteers in identifying and reporting signs of physical and sexual abuse. Keeping kids in the public view is critical in helping to keep them safe.”

ASA realizes that not having spectators is not optimal. However, this is what will be required to begin the season.

The Long Road Back … The Original Phased Return To Play

We have been advised by many of our facilities that they will enforce the current Executive Order that does not allow for more than 50 people at a single event.


In our discussions with various facilities they have defined a full-size soccer field as an event, therefore we can not have more than 50 people at any full-size soccer field. ASA has discussed this with our member clubs and their leadership and there is an understanding that this is the right direction at this time, considering that any single game will have between 37 – 50 people based on only players, coaches/team officials, and referees:

  • Two teams with 15 players per team = 30 people (NOTE: Rosters max at 18 players)
  • Two coaches/team officials per team = 4 people (Note: League rules allow for up to 4 coaches/team officials per team)
  • Three referees = 3 people
  • TOTAL = 37 people (Note: if all maximums were met it would be 47 people)
  • This does not account for any ASA or Club staff that may be present to support the schedule games/events.
  • Small sided games are also being addressed as it is expected to have two games (four teams) on a single full-size field.

Movement from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3 will be determined based on the continued evolution of the pandemic as well as any changes to state, county, and local directives.

It will be great to see youth soccer players competing once again on soccer fields, even if it is without tons of spectators. One of the upcoming events is the Phoenix Rising Cup | September 4-6. Good luck to all the players! While there may be no group celebrations on the pitches, just know everyone is celebrating that games are being played


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