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U.S. Soccer Federation approved for government-backed loan due to COVID-19 crisis - sources

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The U.S. Soccer Federation has applied and been approved for a loan via the Payroll Protection Program that is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), multiple sources have told ESPN.

Sources also told ESPN that the U.S. Adult Soccer Association -- which administers much of the amateur game at the adult level in the U.S. -- has also applied for a PPP loan.

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The program is intended to provide small businesses -- defined as having fewer than 500 employees, with some exceptions -- with a forgivable loan to pay employees during the coronavirus pandemic. The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as the loan is used to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utility costs over the eight-week period after the loan is made -- and if employee and compensation levels are maintained. Otherwise, the interest rate is 1%, with payments deferred for six months. Reports last week stated that the PPP fund had already been depleted, though it's possible new legislation may add funds to the program.

The USSF announced last week that it was laying off and furloughing some staff, meaning that unless the organization restores those staffing and compensation levels, it would have to repay the loan plus interest. The most severe cuts were applied to the Development Academy program, which was terminated and was budgeted to cost the federation $12 million this fiscal year.

The USSF also laid off executives Brian Remedi and Tonya Wallach, staff across other departments and interns. ESPN reported last week that the total number of people either laid off or furloughed was around 45, but additional information obtained by ESPN puts the total cuts at 50. CEO Will Wilson said in the announcement that he would be taking a 50% pay cut. The USSF also shut down seven youth national teams.

The USSF was already planning to have its cash reserves -- which in the wake of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at one point reached $160m -- depleted to $40m over the next two and a half years, but is now anticipating significant revenue shortfalls as a result of postponed or canceled games. The USSF is also bracing for a possible eight-figure settlement in the equal pay lawsuit with members of the U.S. women's national team.

The sources said it was this combination of factors that led to the staff cuts, despite the option of getting a PPP loan.

The USSF isn't alone in terms of national governing bodies for sports laying off staff. Late last week, U.S. Track and Field laid off seven people from its 65-person staff, while CEO Max Siegel took a 20% pay cut.