'Ingenious insanity': Fans pay to have heads stuck on eerie mannequins as football in Belarus defies coronavirus lockdown (VIDEO)
Belarus is the only country in Europe not to have postponed their calendar amid the global coronavirus outbreak, and so the Belarusian Cup semifinal between Dinamo Brest and Shakhtyor Soligorskwent ahead as planned on Wednesday - with a slight twist.
The day before the match the club put special tickets on sale to those who could not make the match, either through their own worries over the killer disease or other unspecified inconveniences.
For 67 Belarusian rubles ($27/£21) each supporter received a real match ticket, a pre-match programme, 10 percent discount on club merchandise and the chance to attend the match ‘virtually’.
The club kept under wraps what exactly that would mean, revealing a creepy collection of mannequin dolls occupying the supporters’ seats with cut out portraits of their faces stuck on the necks and dressed in football shirts from around the world.
The eerie ensemble is one way to cope with the dwindling number of fans attending matches because of the coronavirus. Only 813 turned out at Stadyen DASK Brestski to watch the home side win courtesy of two goals within the first quarter of an hour from Oleksandr Noyok and Pavel Savitsiy.
There was a method to Brest’s madness however, as the club stated on its website: “Part of the proceeds from the sales of virtual tickets will be used to help Belarus fight against coronavirus.”
Responding to the coverage, one fan said: “Judging by the mannequins, they sold between 70 and 80 tickets," while others called it called the move “ingenious insanity” and a “theater of the absurd”.
It’s not the first headline-grabbing stunt the colorful club has concocted. In 2018, officials appointed legendary striker Diego Maradona as honorary club president and paraded the Argentina icon around the streets in an armored car before he abruptly disappeared to pursue a job in Mexico.
Elsewhere, real-life masked and sunglasses-sporting fans of Slavia Mozyr held up pacards at their cup match with BATE Borisov with the bizarre message: “Ronaldo and Messi. No Juventus No Barca. Welcome to Slavia Mozyr”.
Earlier, former Messi teammate and Belarus’ most famous football son Alexander Hleb had pondered the appearance of either of the two claimant’s to the GOAT title in his home country due to football in Europe having ground to a halt.
The current craze of Belarusian football is an unlikely trend that has emerged from sport-starved fans looking for their football fix in the absence of live sport, which has more or less suffered a blanket ban since the outbreak. It includes audiences keen to continue betting on sport.Also on rt.com 'The Sluts' nickname? Pornhub shirt sponsor? - The story of FK Slutsk, football's unlikely Belarusian heroes
A crowd of almost 2,000 people watched the derby between FC Minsk and Dinamo Minsk while most of the world was acclimatizing to lockdown last month, causing Fifpro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann to call the continuation “frankly not comprehendible” and reveal that players had contacted the governing body to voice their concerns.
Ultras of FK Neman Grodno have led calls for a boycott of games due to health concerns and have encouraged other fan movements to suspend their support at home and away games, claiming “we’re aware someone is lying to us” over the virus and insisting it is now time to put health before football.
In aid of that, virtual tickets have now gone on sale for the club’s third home match in eight days, against Isloch in the Premier League on Sunday.Also on rt.com ‘We are aware someone is lying to us’: Belarus ultras call for FOOTBALL BOYCOTT due to covid-19