Belarus

Belarus FA chief defends games going ahead: 'There is no critical situation'

As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads and has seen a halt to almost domestic football in the world, the Belarus Premier League finished match-day 1 on Sunday.

Belarus FA chief defends games going ahead: 'There is no critical situation'
TATYANA ZENKOVICH EFE

As football around the world shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, defiant Belarus kicked off its new season on Thursday with spectators permitted to attend the eight games of the opening round of fixtures in the 2020 season.

Energetik BGU got the Belarus Premier League underway with a 3-1 win over BATE Borisov with several hundred fans watching in the main stand.

Vysheyshaya Liga - Slutsk v Slavia-MozyrSoccer Football - Vysheyshaya Liga - Slutsk v Slavia-Mozyr - Stadyen Haradski, Barysaw, Belarus - March 22, 2020 Fans wave flags as the match goes ahead despite most sport being cancelled around the world as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

Earlier, Vladimir Bazanov, the head of the Belarus Football Federation, said on its official website that only 51 cases of coronavirus had been recorded in the country and there was no reason for not beginning the season.

"For what reason should we not start it? Is a state of emergency declared in our country?" he said. "There is no critical situation. So we decided that we are starting the championship in a timely manner. Today."

He added there was no point in barring the public, as many other leagues did before they eventually suspended games altogether.

"Yes, many matches in Europe have been played without spectators. But so many fans gather around the stadium that it makes no sense to close off the game."

Bazanov said that he would see several matches himself.

"If you followed the last championship, then you know that I constantly attend matches. And over the first round of games I plan to be at three matches," he said.

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