Football continues in Belarus despite pandemic even as fans begin boycotting games - in pics

Around 250 football fans attended match between Neman Grodno and Belshina Bobruisk on Friday

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Most of Europe is in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic but Belarus remains the only country in the region still playing football matches even as a growing number of fans have started boycotting matches.

In the western city of Grodno, local team FC Neman Grodno drew with FC Belshina Bobruisk on Friday in front of almost empty stands. Just 253 people attended, compared to last year when Neman's games were attended by 1,500 people.

The league has proved an unlikely draw for fans overseas who are starved of matches in their own countries.

"Of course, it is the main problem," Belshina coach Eduard Gradoboyev was quoted as saying by Reuters, when asked about the lack of crowd.

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

Before the match started, Neman players applauded the empty stands in support for spectators staying away.

The Belarus football federation explained its decision to continue playing because only a small number of coronavirus cases had been recorded in the eastern European country.

However, they have not made any statements of late. Latest figures show Belarus has 2,226 Covid-19 cases, with 23 deaths.