By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
Football is suspended throughout most of the World, due to the coronavirus global pandemic.
But not in Belarus, where the ‘beautiful game’ is still being played.
The Belarus Premier League is attracting local and foreign fans and is the only football still being played in Europe, despite COVID-19.
On 11 April 2020, the ‘derby’ between FC Minsk and Dinamo Minsk was played in the capital, Minsk, attracting a crowd of some 3,000 persons.
In this East European country and former Soviet Republic, with a population of some 9.5 million, there are less than a hundred cases of the virus and, so far, no deaths have resulted. The President, Alexander Lukashenko, is quite relaxed about it all and has recommended that his fellow country men and women drink vodka to stave off and fight the disease!
The spokesman for the Belarus Football Federation, Aleksandr Aleinik, has stated that certain precautions, including the wearing of gloves and masks, are being taken to allow the games to take place and stop the spread of this deadly disease.
The continuance of football in Belarus has also spawned some broadcast deals, allowing fans in several countries, including India, Israel and Russia, to watch games, which otherwise would not be available to them and thus satisfy their need for football.
This is certainly quite a bizarre and unprecedented situation, which only goes to show the power and attraction of football!
What did the legendary Bill Shankly once say about the importance of football?
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’