On the ball with Belarus


ALMOST every major football league around the world is in hiatus and every single one in Europe -except for in Belarus. Tucked away in eastern Europe, their Premier League rarely gets much attention elsewhere, but as literally the only game in town it is currently enjoying its highest ever profile. The Belarus football federation has already secured deals with several foreign broadcasters to screen matches live, while more are expected to follow. Teams familiar to fans here may include Champions League regulars BATE and the two teams from the capital, Dinamo Minsk and FC Minsk. This pair featured in a derby at the weekend, with FC Minsk winning 3-2 in an enjoyable encounter.

Partly the league – and other sporting events such as ice hockey – have been allowed to go ahead due to the somewhat liberal attitude of their president, Aleksander Lukashenko to the coronavirus threat, even claiming it can be cured with vodka (it can’t).  Just this weekend he made a pre-match appearance on the rink at a high profile hockey match, even hugging fellow players as he skated off (“the virus doesn’t survive in the cold” he claimed (falsely)). The former Soviet state has only around 100 reported cases and no deaths at this time but, if as expected, the numbers rise, then gatherings such as football matches may go the way of the rest of Europe, so catch a game while you can.

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