The world is in a total shut down. Almost everything that used to make the world a place for un-endless activities and fun has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people globally. But there is one country in Europe that has insisted that the virus was not big enough to halt football. And that is Belarus.
Belarus Premier League is the only known football league in Europe that has continued the 2019-2020 season despite the fact that every other league in the continent has been halted since March.
The only thing that looks like a footballing action in Europe is players training in their homes and recently, players being allowed to train in their clubs’ training facilities under stringent rules or protocols.
Most established clubs like La Liga, the English Premier League and Italian Serie A are still battling to get a specific date to restate the season. While German Bundesliga is planning to restart the season this weekend behind closed doors. French Ligue 1 had to end the season and declared Paris Saint Germain the league winners because football is not allowed in the country until after September.
In the midst of all these crises, the Belarus league is still active. The league is not only on, fans are still allowed to come to the stadium to support their teams but under a certain precautionary measure. Even when world professional footballers union (FIFPRO) labelled the decision “not comprehensible”, that didn’t stop the league from going on.
Aleksandr Aleinik of the Belarus Football Federation told Sky Sports News that the country had below 100 coronaviruse confirmed cases when the season started. “Our Ministry of Health took a lot of measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus”, he said. They sent recommendations to us and we sent them to the clubs.”
“Our average numbers for last season are just over 2,000 spectators and it became lower this season following news of the virus.
“We didn’t lock the stadiums from public access but we tried to seat people at a certain distance from each other. We also added anti-bacterial gel and had medical staff monitoring temperatures.”
As at last check, Belarus has over 25, 825 confirmed cases of coronavirus, over 7,711 thousand people have recovered from the virus while over 146 coronavirus related deaths have been recorded in the country. Yet, professional football matches must go on.
“There were different opinions. At the time we were the only league that played and it generated a lot of attention from other countries and media,” Aleinik said.
“Some players, especially from abroad, were concerned but some players were totally okay with continuing. We didn’t have players refusing to play or leaving the club camp but there were different opinions.”