The GIST: Looks like there’s only one country in the world that is completely ignoring social distancing suggestions, and like the true soccer, or shall we say, football-obsessed Europeans they are, have still allowed their professional soccer league to operate.
You’re kidding. What country?: Belarus, a small eastern European country of 9.5 million people. They currently have 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but that doesn’t seem to bother their president Alexander Lukashenko, who said last week that vodka, farmwork and saunas are the best pandemic prevention. Science.
- Without a mandate from their leader, the country is continuing with business as usual, which includes filling up soccer stadiums for Vysheyshaya Liga, the Belarusian Premier League.
Isn’t that dangerous?: Yes, incredibly. All other soccer leagues in Europe have suspended their seasons due to the pandemic, leaving the Belarusian league as the only professional sports league on the continent that is still actively playing matches.
- The teams are taking some precautions though. Before entering the stadiums, which hold anywhere from 1,500 to 22,000 attendees, fans are screened for symptoms including fever, and some wear masks. Still seems super sketchy to us.
Surely they can’t keep playing...: We wouldn’t be so sure. The president staunchly believes “there are no viruses here” (uh, but there are though) and in the few weeks since literally all other sports were put on hold, the Belarusian league has signed TV rights in at least 10 different countries to broadcast their weekly games. Oh, capitalism.
- With all that TV money flowing in and a pandemic-denier in charge, it looks like sports fans desperate for a fix will be FC Dinamo Minsk supporters before we know it.