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Phoenix Rising FC gives up rights to host 2020 USL Championship Final

Phoenix Rising FC (ArizonaSports/Ashley Orellana)

Phoenix Rising FC has relinquished the rights to host the USL Championship Final on Nov. 1.

The club announced on Tuesday that after a meeting with United Soccer League leaders, it has voluntarily elected to forgo the rights to host the 2020 Championship Final should PRFC advance past El Paso Locomotive FC on Saturday at Casino Arizona Field.

Phoenix Rising’s request was approved by the league office out of respect for the LGBTQ community that recognition of hosting the USL Championship Final after receiving three points from San Diego Loyal SC’s forfeit due to the use of a homophobic slur used by a PRFC player was not appropriate or consistent with the club’s values.

The 2020 Championship Final will now be hosted by the winner of Saturday’s Eastern Conference Final between Louisville City FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

“While our dream has been to host a USL Championship Final in Phoenix, the integrity of our club and city comes first,” Phoenix Rising governor Berke Bakay said in a statement.

“If we are fortunate to prevail over a very strong opponent in El Paso Locomotive and earn a position for our team to play in the USL Championship Final, we would prefer to shine a positive light on our commitment to the LGBTQ community and amplify the need for acceptance and equality in professional sports.”

After advancing on penalties over No. 1 overall seed Reno 1868 FC to reach the Western Conference Final last Saturday night, No. 2 overall seed PRFC claimed homefield advantage for the remainder of the postseason.

However, three of Phoenix’s 35 points in the regular season came via the forfeit from San Diego on Sept. 30, which Rising was trailing 3-1 at halftime when Loyal SC manager Landon Donovan made the decision to end his side’s season.

And it’s only because of those three points that PRFC was able to win the tiebreaker over Lou City — who finished with an Eastern Conference-best 35 points — while Tampa Bay finished with 33 points.

Should both Phoenix and Louisville advance to this year’s USL Championship Final, it would be a rematch of the 2018 edition which was played at Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium, the home of the Louisville Cardinals men’s and women’s soccer teams.

Lou City would also be hosting its third consecutive Championship Final and the first at the club’s new Lynn Family Stadium.

Saturday night’s Western Conference Final will be Phoenix Rising’s final home match of 2020.