'Not comprehendible': Outrage as competition continues amid crisis

Seen here, a fan in a face mask watches the Belarusian Premier League.
The Premier League in Belarus is pushing on in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Pic: Getty

A leading football official says he's gobsmacked Belarus is continuing its season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite competitions being put on hold all around the world, the European nation is stubbornly pushing on as if everything is OK.

'PURE GREED': Millionaire chairman accused of 'disgraceful' act amid crisis

‘TERRIBLE’: Football world in mourning after coronavirus tragedy

‘I’M OUTRAGED’: WAG flies three kids to coronavirus epicentre

Belarus is the only country in Europe where top-level football is being played, with eight fixtures scheduled in the Belarusian Premier League this weekend.

The country's president has been defiant amid the crisis, insisting there's "no virus" there - all the while playing hockey in a public exhibition and encouraging citizens to drink vodka to combat the deadly pandemic.

“I don’t understand. There is no virus here,” Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told a reporter on Saturday prior to playing in a hockey game, per NBC News translation.

“This is a refrigerator, it is the best thing for your health. Sport, especially on ice, is better than any antiviral medication. It is the real thing.”

He gave the interview on the sidelines of an arena with fans packed into the stands in defiance of the World Health Organisation’s social distancing guidelines.

Now Belarus is under fire from the football world governing body's global players' union, Fifpro, who are urging the European nation to show some "common sense" and suspend their season.

Fifpro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said it is "frankly not comprehendible" that professional football is continuing in Belarus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

‘I don't think anybody can explain’

"We're appealing for it to be taken with the same cautionary measures that have been taken in the rest of football," he insisted.

"It is frankly not comprehendible how this could be going on.

"Why those standards there would be looking so much different from just across the border, I don't think anybody can explain. So everything in common sense tells you that they need to apply the same standards and we will be lobbying to that effect.

Belarus are still allowing fans to pack stadiums for their football competition.
Fans have still been allowed to pack stands in Belarus. Pic: Getty

"Yes, there are players who are reaching out who are concerned."

The league has seen a surge in popularity with the Belarus Football Federation securing broadcasting deals with sports networks in 10 countries, including Russia, Israel and India.

Fifpro does not have a member union in Belarus but said it will lobby world governing body Fifa and European counterpart Uefa on the matter.

On Saturday, the derby between FC Minsk and Dinamo Minsk was watched by a capacity crowd of 3,000 people in Belarus' capital.

Lukashenko, a leader who’s held power in the former Soviet Union state for 25 years, has referred to preventative shutdown measures in other nations intent on stemming the spread of the virus as a “psychosis” while suggesting work is the cure for COVID-19.

So far, Belarus has more than 150 reported cases of coronavirus and one death attributed to it.