Soccer Player Traded After Declining COVID-19 Vaccine

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Djordje Mihailovic #8 of CF Montreal consoles Erik Hurtado #11 after he missed a shot on goal against the Columbus Crew during the second half at DRV PNK Stadium on May 1, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hurtado was traded to the Crew on July 8 after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine because of travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. Montreal FC has been playing its home games in Florida.
Djordje Mihailovic #8 of CF Montreal consoles Erik Hurtado #11 after he missed a shot on goal against the Columbus Crew during the second half at DRV PNK Stadium on May 1, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hurtado was traded to the Crew on July 8 after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine because of travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. Montreal FC has been playing its home games in Florida. (Image: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

A Major League Soccer player for the Montreal FC squad was traded to Columbus after declining to accept COVID-19 vaccination, according to a statement by team management. 

In a July 8 Press Statement posted on the club’s website, CF Montreal said they sold forward Erik Hurtado to Columbus Crew SC for $200,000 in General Allocation Money despite being satisfied with his on-field performance, “There was some interest in Erik during the past few weeks and we listened to the offers, even though we were satisfied with Erik’s work.”

“Because he’s not vaccinated against Covid-19, his situation was problematic and we started considering a trade when we got the confirmation that the team could return to Montreal,” club Sporting Director Olivier Renard was quoted as saying.

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

Hurtado, a nine year veteran of the MLS with 19 goals and 11 assists in 140 games, was acquired by Montreal in February of this year and played seven games for the club with one assist.

The Athletic said the root issue is Quebec and Ontario’s travel restrictions, which only allow fully vaccinated players to return to Canada for training, and is an obstacle the other Canadian clubs are facing as well, “That obviously created problems for Hurtado and Montreal; it could do the same for unvaccinated players on Toronto FC.”

The website said Toronto FC midfielder Nick DeLeon had already stated earlier this year he would not be taking the injection. They paraphrased General Manager Ali Curtis as saying “one or two players are either not vaccinated or still need a second shot.”

“It’s not clear what TFC, who returned to Canada on Thursday, plan to do with the unvaccinated players.”

The remaining Canadian MLS club, the Vancouver Whitecaps, are reportedly completely vaccinated according to CEO Axel Schuster. The Athletic says although the team has been innoculated, “They do not yet know when they’ll be able to return to British Columbia, even for training,” and have been playing out of Utah.

Toronto FC has been playing out of Orlando and Montreal FC has been playing out of Miami. 

According to the Government of Canada website, all travellers arriving in Canada must endure a 14-day quarantine. If arriving after July 5, travellers may be granted an exemption if they can provide evidence they have received full vaccination in addition to a preflight negative PCR test. Canada only accepts Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson variants as valid. 

In early June, the Trudeau administration made a special exemption for National Hockey League club the Montreal Canadiens to play home games on Canadian soil after the team broke a 10-year dry Canadian curse on a northern franchise appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Liberal Party’s federal government, however, limited the number of fans who could attend at 3,500 and refused to expand further as hockey mania gripped Montreal. 

The last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was the Canadiens in 1993, defeating Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings. The Canadiens were defeated in the 2021 series this week by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-1 score.

In the cricket world, two players in the women’s branch of the West Indies Cricket Club collapsed on field and began convulsing during a televised match with Pakistan on July 2 three days after the club announced on Twitter it had fully vaccinated its players.

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.