Coronavirus Outbreak: Belarus Postpones Womens Soccer but Mens League Continues

The Belarusian Football Federation said on Wednesday it was postponing the start of its women's Premier League after several players were found to have been in contact with possible carriers of the novel coronavirus.

by Hari Aditya

Updated: Apr 16, 2020 12:00 IST

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Belarus Football Federation

The Belarusian Football Federation said on Wednesday that it was postponing the launch of its women's Premier League after it was discovered that some participants were in touch with potential carriers of the novel coronavirus. The launch of the new women's soccer season in Belarus has been postponed by concerns that players have been subjected to the latest coronavirus, but the men's league shows no indication of stopping The women's league was supposed to begin its 2020 season on Thursday, however, the Belarus soccer federation said Wednesday it is now "suspended until further notice." 

The federation also reported that "several" teams had communicated with coronavirus "possible carriers." Belarus is the only nation in Europe that still holds competitive men's soccer games at stands of fans. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko resisted stringent lockout procedures and even participated in front of fans in an ice hockey game last month.

"There is no reason for closing the competition," Sergei Kovalchuk, Minister of Sports and Tourism, said of the men's league in an interview broadcast Wednesday by Belarus 5 TV station. He commented before declaring a termination of the women's team. Throughout recent times, turnout for men's league games throughout Belarus has decreased, as many supporters have opted to remain away. Fan boycotts have been organized at the majority of the 16 top-tier clubs.

"The amount of fans has diminished by more than 70 percent today," said Kovalchuk. "Nobody pressures us to travel to the venue. You should go, or not go." The Belarusian League has drawn lockout supporters from other countries and negotiated major international TV agreements for channels involved in broadcasting live sports. As of Wednesday Belarus reported 3,728 new coronavirus infections, with 36 deaths.

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