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Belarusian Premier League plays on despite coronavirus pandemic

Belarusian Premier League matches still being played with supporters in stadiums
bate borisov

Sport around the world might have appeared all over due to the coronavirus but one competition keeps playing. 

The Turkish Super Lig was on of the last domestic leagues to suspended matches last Thursday. That hasn't stopped Belarus, with the Belarusian Premier League kicking off the 2020 season last weekend in front of spectators at stadiums.

Energetyk-BGU pulled off a huge shock 3-1 win over the landlocked country’s most successful club, BATE Borisov, in front of 730 fans.

Belarus President recommends tractor therapy


As governments around the world order their citizens into lockdown, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko proposed ‘tractor therapy’ to combat the pandemic.

He said: “People are working in tractors, no one is talking about the virus. In the villages, the tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone.”

Lukashenko has been in power in Belarus since 1994 and has been described as Europe’s last dictator. There are serious questions surrounding press freedom and political opposition in Belarus, one of Europe's most secretive and authoritarian regimes.

The President said that Belarusians “do not suffer the same psychosis as those in Western Europe.” Time will tell if his approach is sensible or not.

Alexander Hleb speaks out


Former Belarus international Alexander Hleb hs weighed in on the debate, telling Foxsports Australia: “The coronavirus has closed the Champions League and the Europa League. This is good, because you have to try and stop it. Uefa have done the right thing.

“But in Belarus, it’s like no one cares. It’s incredible. Maybe in one week or two weeks we will stop here. Maybe our President is just waiting to see what happens with the virus.

“Everybody here knows what’s happened to Italy and Spain. It doesn’t look good. But in our country, people in the presidential administration believe it’s not as extreme as the news says.

“A lot of young people and students here think like this. I’m keeping at home with my family. But when I go out, the streets and restaurants are still busy.”

The former Arsenal and Barcelona player is not sure how long the situation with the Belarusian Premier League will continue: “It’s very difficult to explain our country. All leagues have closed but we don’t seem to think it’s a problem. Why? I don’t know.”

Publicity for the Belarusian Premier League


One thing is for sure, while the Belarusian Premier League continues there will be much more interest than usual. Many football supporters are familiar with BATE Borisov who won 13 straight titles from 2006-2019.

They reached the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2008-09 and reached he Round of 32 for the first time in 2010-11 when they were knocked out by Paris Saint-Germain.

But many football supporters and casual observers are now becoming knowledgeable about lesser known clubs including Isloch, Neman Grodno, FK Minsk, Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino, Dinamo Minsk, Shakhtjor Soligorsk and 2019 champions Dynamo Brest.

With the rest of the world on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Belarus remains "the only place in Europe you can play football," says Hleb.

"In Belarus, it’s like no one cares (about coronavirus). It’s incredible. All the world now watches the Belarusian league. Everybody should go to their television and see us. 

"When the NHL closed the season, a lot of ice hockey players went to Russia to play. Maybe Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might come to the Belarus league to continue. You know?"
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