Belarus FA chief: 'Currently no reasons for stopping the league'

The Belarus FA's general secretary Sergei Zhardetski has told ESPN there are "currently no reasons" for suspending its domestic league amid the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

With football at a standstill, the attention of fans has turned to the Belarusian Premier League where the league continues on while others were suspended indefinitely.

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As of April 3, there were 351 confirmed COVID-19 infections and four deaths in Belarus, according to the Johns Hopkins University, placing the East European country right above Albania and Vietnam but well below neighbouring countries Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Russia.

On April 2, Belarus suspended all "cultural, sporting and scientific events with international participation until April 6," however the national football league will persist, the Zhardetski confirmed to ESPN.

"We review the situation on a daily basis," Zhardetski said. "We fully trust our health care system and there are currently no reasons for stopping the league.

"We understand that the situation in some countries is very serious but having consulted with the corresponding authorities in Belarus we have an understanding that our league can continue for the moment."

The league has been dubbed the "last league on earth." And while Zhardetski said he wasn't angry about the label, he said it's not something they were hoping for.

"It is what it is," he said. "We did not ask for this label, but the situation in Belarus is really not that critical to close the tournament."

The general secretary said with attendance figures averaging just over 1,000 fans, they "are also trying to seat the people at a certain distance from each other."

The Vysheyshaya Liha, as the league is called locally, will resume this Friday, with Dinamo Minsk hosting Torpedo BelAZ Zhodino as fans across the globe follow the league now. But Zhardetski said that despite a string of new broadcasting deals in countries like Russia, Israel and India, it was never the league's plan to attract new followers.

"Additional popularization is good for Belarusian football. Obviously, there is an interest in terms of TV rights and a number of countries are broadcasting," he said. "But I think this is not the time to look at this from a commercial prospective."

Big European leagues like the German Bundesliga are poised to bring back football as soon as possible. They are hoping to restore some sort of normality amid coronavirus crisis,

And Zhardetski said that football can be "a way of relaxing in the current flow of alarming epidemiological news."