Minsk, Apr 11: Belarus is the only country in Europe still playing soccer matches amid the coronavirus pandemic but the fans are staying away to protect themselves from the disease.
In the western city of Grodno, local team FC Neman Grodno drew with FC Belshina Bobruisk on Friday in front of almost empty stands with just 253 fans attending the game. Even Neman Grodno's own fans urged people to keep away.
"Let's stay home, reduce the risks associated with the spread of coronavirus, protect ourselves and our loved ones," they said in a statement. Before the match started, the Neman players applauded the empty stands in support for spectators staying away.
The Belarus football federation initially explained its decision to continue because only a small number of coronavirus cases had been recorded in the eastern European country. The clubs say they must comply with the federation's decision. The latest figures show Belarus has 2,226 cases, with 23 deaths. (XINHUA)