Belarus Premier League: The only show in town

Football leagues around the globe ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic with only a few select competitions still in action. The Nicaragua and Tajikistan are both currently playing on through the pandemic, but neither of the leagues has made the splash that the Belarus Premier League has over the last few weeks. Since Belarus Premier League kicked off in late March, fans hungry for football have tuned in to watch matches online.

Despite calls for the country’s top-flight league to shut down, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has shot down any possibility of closing the league. Lukashenko has gone a far as to tell citizens that “vodka and a sauna” can improve health. Although the league is playing on, attendances are declining over fears of the disease’s spread.

Fifpro has stated it is unsure how games continue to be played during a worldwide pandemic. It is believed Belarus’s officials, who are traditionally secretive, have hidden the worries of COVID-19 from citizens. However, players have shown concern playing on and continuing while other leagues have suspended play.

In a recent interview, Vitsebsk midfielder Anton Matveyenka showed plenty of concern stating:

“I am not in the best mood. There is rather a feeling of danger nearby. And when everybody is phoning you and asking about Vitsebsk, I feel somewhat uneasy.”

In spite of the worry, the Belarus Premier League has sealed television rights deals with channels around the world hungry to show football to an audience in need of live sports. The league has been a big topic on social media with many online outside of Belarus searching for a club to support.

Most football fans around Europe are familiar with Belarussian club BATE Borisov due to their repeated appearances in both the Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds. Despite being well-known FC Slutsk has become a club many English-speaking fans are following due to the offensive English word that resembles the team’s name.

The Belarussian top-flight is set to continue on in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. For now, football fans outside the country are enjoying the chance to watch a bit of football in a time of chaos.

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