Premier League could return from June 1
Premier League – Burnley v AFC Bournemouth – Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain – February 22, 2020 General view of the Premier League logo on a match ball before the match [REUTERS/Phil Noble]

As per United Kingdom government guidelines published on May 11, 2020, top-level sport in England could restart behind closed doors from June 1.

This means that Premier League fans in Kenya and around the world could actually see their favourite teams complete the season.

According to English media, the UK government has set out a roadmap to exit the coronavirus lockdown situation, whose step two includes “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact…” as per AFP.

However, the sporting events will only eb allowed to go on should the covid-19 situation between now and June 1st improve.

For fans who wished to watch the matches live in the stadiums, it will have to wait a while longer.

Games will have to take place without spectators, should they take place, with the government directing sporting venues may only be accessible should the number of covid-19 infections in the country reduce.

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The Premier League never went from after Harvey Barnes’s 85th-minute strike for Leicester against Aston Villa proved to be the final goal of the campaign before the coronavirus interruption.

Football is continuing in some countries though…

BELARUS

Belarus has reported over 19,000 covid-19 cases with over 100 deaths. Despite the situation, Belarus remains the only European country where football continues. 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says there is no cause for alarm. Although as it stands, stadiums remain half-empty, due to the surging numbers of the deadly virus.

The Belarus FA Secretary-General, Sergei Zhardetski maintains that there is no reason to suspend the league, saying the health sector is well prepared to handle any eventualities. 

 “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, “he argues. 

Zhardetski says, the decision to scrap off the season or call off the games is entirely the responsibility of the fans. “The decision on whether or not to go to the matches must be made by the fans,’’ he says

Measures

The sports ministry says it has put a raft of strict measures, for people who want to enter stadiums. The directives are meant to ensure fans who get in are tested and cleared of covid-19. 

“We are taking all kinds of measures, such as disinfectant gel and doctors at the entrances to take the temperature of all attendees, “says Zhardeski.

Other measures also include controlling the number of fans who get into the stadium. Nevertheless, many have chosen to boycott the games with fears of catching the disease. “Let’s stay home, reduce the risks associated with the spread of coronavirus, and protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said a statement from the officials of the football governing body in Belarus.

The situation has however affected the beauty of the game. Apart from lower revenues collected, the enchantment and the roar of fans is no more. The game is dull and boring. 

“Because football is for spectators. And when you come to an absolutely half-empty stadium, especially such a good one like here in Grodno, it is a bit uncomfortable,” he explains. 

NICARAGUA

In the Central American nation of Nicaragua, football has not stopped. 

The Primera Liga de Nicaragua is running smoothly amid the pandemic, which has forced postponement if most public gatherings. 

Even though matches are staged behind closed doors, passionate fans have not been deterred from coming to the stadiums and watching their teams play. 

They have gone to lengths of congregating on the grass banks next to the stadiums – case in point witnessed when Managua FC played Walter Ferretti FC in the semifinal second leg. 

Despite the games being broadcasted, fans have failed to resist the urge of staying home. 

General Secretary of the Nicaraguan Football Federation Jose Maria Bermudez, however, has not ruled out the possibility of the league being cancelled. 

“We were given information by the health officials and we took a decision based on that. We are not the government, we run football. If things get worse or out of control, we will have to suspend the tournament to protect lives,” he told Reuters. 

CONCACAF has raised concerns about the staging of football matches in Nicaragua. 

“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, I’ve got to be honest, but whatever we can do to put pressure on to ensure that the players are safe is to us paramount. From what I’ve seen, I think this has been pushed by the government, and so that’s one of the things we’re trying to wrap our head around,” said CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani. 

SOUTH KOREA

Premier League could return from June 1
Players have been urged not to celebrate goals with their teammates [COURTESY]

The K-League is set to restart on Friday, May 8, with Goal celebrations, handshakes and talking all banned under strict new safety guidelines. 

With well over 10,000 confirmed covid-19 cases, the country has been capable of flattening the curve through an extensive “trace, test and treat” programme. 

Strict health checks and hygiene measures are expected to enforced on the field, with players and coaching subject to temperature checks ahead of each game. 

Players have, however, been asked to bow their heads from a distance and avoid close contact. 

TAIWAN

In Taiwan, The baseball and soccer seasons got underway in the second weekend of April. 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday, April 12 posted a picture on Facebook account of herself watching Baseball match on TV between Chinatrust Brothers and Uni-President Lions at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium. 

At the stadium, attendees were limited to only 200 players, coaches, journalists, cheerleaders and umpires. “What’s more important is once the epidemic is over, we’ll see each other at the baseball pitch!” she posted.

Taiwan Football Premier League also got underway on April 12. The country has over 430 confirmed covid-19 cases.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan is one of the few nations in the world that has reported no cases of the coronavirus. Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov told a briefing the country was not hiding anything.

If there was a single confirmed coronavirus case, we would have immediately informed … the World Health Organization in line with our obligations,” he said. Their football season restarted on April 19, with fans even allowed to go to stadiums.

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