Ronaldo & Messi to play in Belarus? Star says Europe's only operating football league may attract elite
The Belarus Premier League remains the only football division currently still operating on the continent and, following the postponement of Australia’s A-League top tier on Tuesday, is one of the few in the world to not alter their schedule.
That has lead fans the world over going cold turkey without their football fix looking to Eastern Europe.
“Now the whole world is watching the Belarusian league. Everybody should go to their television and see us,” Hleb told The Sun.
Belarusian Premier League is not closed due to coronavirus.They have the first games in 2020 tomorrow, new season to be started. 👀It’s one of the latest top football divisions that still exists in the world.We’ll send some links soon.🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾🇧🇾 pic.twitter.com/jvz0dpQnko— Russian Non-League Football (@RUSNLF) March 19, 2020
Hleb is best known for his tenure as a silky-dribbling midfielder at first Premier League side Arsenal and Spanish giants Barcelona, but only concluded his playing career with Belarusian Premier League side FC Isloch Minsk Raion last year.
The 38-year-old says “no one cares about coronavirus” in his homeland: “Because of Coronavirus they have canceled the Champions League and Europa League. It’s good, because they need to try and stop the spread of the disease. But in Belarus no one cares about coronavirus. It’s unbelievable.”
The league played a full calendar of fixtures last weekend and are scheduled to do the same again from Friday to Sunday, despite sport largely being postponed the world over to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Despite criticizing the Belrusian attitude to the disease, Hleb, who was runner-up in the 2006 Champions League with Arsenal before becoming was part of Barca’s 2009 treble-winning Barcelona side, joked there could be an upside to the country's lax action in attracting the world’s top players from countries which have shut-down football altogether.
“When the NHL closed the season, a lot of ice hockey players went to Russia to play. Maybe Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might come to the Belarus league to continue. You know?” Hleb said.
Italy and Spain have the second and fourth-most reported cases of coronavirus which has accounted for a respected 6,077 and 2,696 deaths, the highest and third-highest toll in the world.
The initial stages of the pandemic in both countries forced the closure of Serie A and La Liga, meaning both Ronaldo and Messi will be out of action for the foreseeable future.
On a more serious note, Hleb said that his country must soon adopt a stricter attitude towards stemming the outbreak.
“Maybe in a week or two our league will stop. It’s not ruled out that our president will just follow the development of the situation. Everyone here knows what happened in Italy and Spain. It’s really bad. But people from the president’s administration believe it’s not that bad, that’s what they say in the news,” he said.Also on rt.com Tokyo 2020 Olympics POSTPONED: Japanese Prime Minister Abe agrees to reschedule Olympic Games