Football During a Pandemic – The Last Holdouts Against Coronavirus

As the global game and world at large has come to an effective standstill during the outbreak of the coronovirus pandemic, the current coronavirus football situation has led the football community to slowly come to terms with dealing with the effects of it. From closed door games, to cancellations, to dealing with the financial impact to clubs and players… day by day, measures are updated to best manage the situation for all involved.

 

However, in a limited number of countries, not all has come to a stop. It is a situation that is ever changing, but game of football has not come to a complete stop, with the flame of the game been kept lit in it’s last remaining outposts. Some such as Western Sahara football are always under trying times, in the current coronavirius football landscape, some as Turkey and Australia held on until cancellations were unavoidable, while in other corners or the globe, the games continue.

 

Current Leagues


Belarus Belarus

The most consistent of these has been the Belorussian league, maintaining a full schedule behind closed doors from their March season start, including Champions League regulars BATA Borisov.

However as the BBC reports there is growing pressure from supporter groups to boycott games, in spite of president Lukashenko’s resistance to disruption at this time, though no cancellations seem to be on the horizon in Belarus. Despite this, Fifpro and it’s general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann have condemned the continuation of the league, saying,

“It is frankly not comprehendible how this could be going on”

On the field however, the surprise of the early stages has been two defeats from two for BATE. This leaves BATE to sit level bottom of the table. At the top 4 teams have made perfect starts with Minsk and Energetyk-BGU level on top on goal difference as the early pacemakers.

BelarusSlavia Mazyr v BATE

BelarusMinsk Derby

BelarusNeman v Vitebsk

­čçž­čçżBelarus League Table
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 BATE 10 7 1 2 22 10 +12 22
2 Energetyk-BGU 10 7 0 3 14 10 +4 21
3 Torpedo BelAZ 10 5 3 2 13 8 +5 18
4 Shakhtyor 10 5 3 2 15 3 +12 18
5 Slutsk 10 5 2 3 16 15 +1 17
6 Isloch 10 5 0 5 12 15 -3 15
7 Ruh Brest 10 3 5 2 8 6 +2 14
8 Vitebsk 10 3 4 3 8 10 -2 13
9 Dinamo Brest 10 4 1 5 13 13 +0 13
10 Dinamo Minsk 10 4 1 5 13 11 +2 13
11 Slavia 10 3 3 4 11 15 -4 12
12 Gorodeya 10 3 3 4 7 11 -4 12
13 Neman Grodno 9 3 2 4 12 12 +0 11
14 Minsk 8 3 1 4 12 16 -4 10
15 Smolevichy-STI 9 0 4 5 6 14 -8 4
16 Belshina 10 0 3 7 7 20 -13 3

 

Nicaragua Nicaragua

The sole league continuing in the Americas is that of Nicaragua, currently in it’s Apertura phase of the 2019/20 season. However with case of Corona virus being confirmed in the county, The Guardian has reported 3rd placed Diriang├ęn has expressed a wish to suspend the league, with fears among there players and staff of the current situation. However with government pressure to fulfill fixtures, and with their funding influence among a majority of teams in the league, no stoppage seems imminent.

In contrast there are opposers of the current situation. The league running as usual is seen as a platform for president Daniel Ortega’s domestic display of stability and normality. In this environment, he is unlikely to accept dissenting voices from clubs. Clubs have raised occasional concerns by some such as Real Madriz, but such comments are quickly retracted.

On the field Managua from the capital sit two points clear at the top of the table. They lead from Real Estel├ş, who defeated them after extra time in the 2nd of a two legged Apertura final in December.

NicaraguaReal Madriz FC v CD Ocotal

NicaraguaCD Ocotal v Real Estel├ş FC

NicaraguaJuventusFC v CDWalter Ferretti

­čç│­čç«Nicaragua Campeonato Nacional
# Team MP W D L F A G P

 

Burundi Burundi

In contrast to other countries which continue, there is a great appreciation for the scale of the Coronavirus pandemic. With just now the first two officially confirmed cases in the country, no reason has been found to cancel regular events such as church mass, or football games, though it is now in question. Also, on what current coronavirus football measures can be taken. For instance, they refused to select European based players for national duty. This whilst international fixtures were still possible and were among the first calling on CAF to suspend such fixtures.

As such, the league, as the country as a whole runs in isolation to the outside footballing community. Therefore, Aigle Noir are now certain to cede their title won last season, the first in the clubs history. With only four game weeks remaining, Le Messager have played one game extra, to sit 4 points clear from Musongati. The league now looks set to go down to the wire.

BurundiVitol’O Fc v Musongati

BurundiAthletico Academy v Aigle Noir

BurundiInter Star Vs Buja City

­čçž­čç«Burundi Premier League
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 Le Messager Ngozi 27 15 10 2 43 15 +28 55
2 Musongati 27 14 10 3 38 22 +16 52
3 Dynamik 27 11 9 7 25 20 +5 42
4 Aigle Noir 27 11 8 8 44 36 +8 41
5 Vital'O 27 11 8 8 35 27 +8 41
6 Flambeau du Centre 27 11 8 8 36 37 -1 41
7 Bujumbura City 27 10 7 10 41 33 +8 37
8 Bumamuru 27 9 8 10 37 31 +6 35
9 Athl├ętico Olympic 27 9 8 10 45 41 +4 35
10 Inter Star 27 8 11 8 26 26 +0 35
11 Rukinzo 27 9 8 10 33 38 -5 35
12 Olympic Star 27 9 6 12 44 43 +1 33
13 Kayanza United 27 8 9 10 30 34 -4 33
14 Lydia Ludic 27 7 8 12 18 34 -16 29
15 Ngozi City 27 6 4 17 24 49 -25 22
16 Les Lierres 27 6 2 19 23 56 -33 20

 

Turkmenistan Turkmenistan

The Turkmenistan football league calender kicked off as usual on March 6th. While K├Âpetdag Ashgabat were the dominant force post independence,recent seasons have seen success be in the hands of city rivals Altyn Asyr, winning all titles from 2014-2019. Most often runners up in this time is Ahal, based in Anau, outside the main and some 15km from the Ashgabat Stadium which they share. However yet anagain in 2020, it seems these two will be those fighting once again for the title.

*Update 1-6-20 – Thanks to the work of the people of the Russian “Other Football” news site, match footage was been captured, including full games, so be sure to check their site for the very latest updates on the 2020 ├Łokary Liga.



­čç╣­čç▓Turkmenistan League Fixtures
June 1, 2020
Altyn Asyr 10:00 Energetik
Nebit├ži 10:00 A┼čgabat
June 2, 2020
Ahal 10:00 K├Âpetdag A┼čgabat
Merw 10:00 ┼×agadam
June 6, 2020
A┼čgabat 10:00 Altyn Asyr
June 7, 2020
Energetik 10:00 Ahal
K├Âpetdag A┼čgabat 10:00 ┼×agadam
Nebit├ži 10:00 Merw
June 12, 2020
Altyn Asyr 10:00 Nebit├ži
June 13, 2020
Ahal 10:00 A┼čgabat
┼×agadam 10:00 Energetik
Merw 10:00 K├Âpetdag A┼čgabat
June 17, 2020
Altyn Asyr 13:00 ┼×agadam
A┼čgabat 13:00 Ahal

 

 

Leagues To Come


Tajikistan Tajikistan

A new contender to this list though will be that of Tajikistan which has confirmed it plans to play it’s season curtain raising Super Cup as planned, albeit behind closed doors. With zero local confirmed cases of Coronavirus, it has been deemed there is no coronavirus football schedule changes. On March 31st Istaravshan heavily defeated league rivals Isfara 6-0 in a pre-season friendly, signalling their intent for the campaign. This gives good preparation for their season opener against Khatlon on Sunday April 5th. However Sunday’s opening round of league fixtures will be pre-empted by the curtain raising Tajik Super Cup on Saturday with defending league/cup champions Istiqlol, playing the league runners up Hujand

Istaravshan 6-0 Isfara –@rasulovjr23

­čç╣­čç»Tajikistan League Fixtures
May 2, 2020
CSKA Pomir 12:00 Fayzkand
Istaravshan 12:00 Khujand
Khatlon 12:00 Dushanbe-83
May 3, 2020
Regar-TadAZ 12:00 Istiqlol
Kuktosh 12:00 Lokomotive Pamir
May 9, 2020
CSKA Pomir 12:00 Khatlon
Fayzkand 12:00 Khujand
Lokomotive Pamir 12:00 Regar-TadAZ
May 10, 2020
Dushanbe-83 12:00 Kuktosh
Istiqlol 12:00 Istaravshan
May 16, 2020
Kuktosh 12:00 CSKA Pomir
Istaravshan 12:00 Lokomotive Pamir
Khatlon 12:00 Fayzkand
May 17, 2020
Khujand 12:00 Istiqlol
Regar-TadAZ 12:00 Dushanbe-83
May 23, 2020
Dushanbe-83 12:00 Istaravshan
Fayzkand 12:00 Istiqlol
Lokomotive Pamir 12:00 Khujand
May 24, 2020
Khatlon 12:00 Kuktosh
CSKA Pomir 12:00 Regar-TadAZ

 

Taiwan Taiwan

The 2020 Taiwan football season will commence on April 12th. Current champions Tatung FC will look to regain their title from the 2019 season. In contrast to it’s Asian neighbours, Taiwan has been largely unaffected by the spread of Coronovirus, with life continuing as usual for locals. For the league participants, it will be the same 8 teams from the 2019 campaign. This includes Red Lions and Ming Chuan survived relegation playoffs to retain their top flight status

2020 Participants
1 Hang Yuen
2 Taipei City Tatung
3 Taichung Futuro
4 Taiwan Power Company
5 Tainan Steel
6 Hasus Taiwan Sports University
7 Taipei Red Lions
8 Ming Chuan University

Ming Chuan win playoff

­čç╣­čç╝Taiwan League Table
# Team MP W D L F A G P
1 Taipower 14 11 2 1 34 6 +28 35
2 Tatung 14 11 2 1 29 6 +23 35
3 NTCPE 14 10 0 4 32 8 +24 30
4 I Shou University 14 6 1 7 21 31 -10 19
5 Hun Sing 14 4 4 6 13 20 -7 16
6 NSTC 14 3 2 9 7 21 -14 11
7 Ming Chuan UniÔÇŽ 14 3 0 11 11 34 -23 9
8 Fubon Financial 14 2 1 11 10 31 -21 7

 

The time we now live in with coronavirus football ‘chaos’ now being the norm, is a tough adjustment. While many clubs and associations adjust for financial realities without the game, others persevere. Though it presents difficult times, the game has gone largely quiet. Some remain, but at what cost, time will tell.




CONCACAF World Cup

2026 World Cup : CONCACAF Seek Three Nation Bid

As FIFA continue their plans to further expand the number of teams competing at future world cups, CONCACAF General Secretary Philippe Moggio believes this presents a great opportunity for the region to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

 

Speaking to ESPN Deportes, Moggio spoke of his ambition to bring the World Cup back to the region, having last hosted the competition in the United States in 1994.

“Obviously, this is a high priority for our region. It is time to have the World Cup back at CONCACAF, considering the last time we had hosting duties was in 1994 in the U.S.”

The planned bid will consist of the hosting being split among the three largest associations in CONCACAF, in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Moggio believes that the expansion to 48 teams will require a developed football market in terms of infrastructure and also commercial opportunities.

“It is a strong region in sporting and economic terms,” adding “There will be a need for more stadiums to be played in. “There aren’t many countries in the world which can say they will have no problems in hosting this kind of competition. This makes co-hosting bids, such as the one in our region and with three countries involved, more feasible.”

 

Both Mexico (1970 & 1986) and the United States (1994) have previously hosted tournaments, with this being a potential first for Canada whose only previous World Cup experience came in qualifying for the 1986 edition. However, despite considering a three way joint bid, Moggio has ruled out a cross-confederation bid with CONMEBOL, despite the success of the Copa America – Centenario.

Azteca StadiumAzteca Stadium-Mexico

 

“The idea of cooperation in tournament organisation is always there and we are in our best disposition to explore different opportunities. However, when it comes to consider merging our Confederations and look for a joint World Cup qualifying pool, I don’t think there’s space for changes.”

Despite the potential logistical and organisation problems that having such an expended tournament may present, Moggio spoke highly of the initiative, speaking of the benefits ti can bring to the regional and global game to give more countries the opportunity to appear on the grand stage of a World Cup, which can provide benefits for these countries into the future.

“We all know the World Cup is a great development tool for football. When a country has the chance of playing the tournament, it helps a great deal in the progress and development of football in that nation.”

 

Though a decision on hosting for the 2026 World Cup is not due to take place until 2020, CONCACAF’s previous hosting experience, infrastructure and an almost 30 year gap between hosting duties, this potential bid surely makes Moggio’s CONCACAF offer favourite entering the bidding process.

 

1994 World Cup Highlights – BBC