πŸ‡§πŸ‡Ύ From Belarus, with love

3 months ago

With their league being the last in Europe still standing through the Covid-19 pandemic, the Belarusian Football Federation took the opportunity to seize the moment at a time when all eyes are on them.

Social media campaigns, careful scheduling of each weekend’s fixtures and more than a little imagination from individual clubs has seen commercial broadcast rights boom, English-language fan accounts pop up all over twitter and provoked a 70% upsurge in gambling on the league.

And we have of course been covering it all both here in the app and across our social channels. At the start of it, we and a few committed (committable?) users even assigned ourselves with teams to which we’ll lend our support during these weeks with little distraction elsewhere. One went so far to set up his own twitter account for the student side, Energetik-BGU – now officially recognised by the club as their English language voice on social media!

Surprise Early Pacesetters

With Round 6 of the season starting today, we have already seen a lot of surprising results and previously middling sides rise to the top in what would appear to be a highly competitive campaign.

Top of the pile are FK Slutsk, a side who finished 11th in 2019.

We’ve already mentioned the state university side, Energetik who started the season with a shock win over giants BATE but their good form was ended by Torpedo Zhodino, who themselves have gone down just as well with new fans of the league.

In fact, only they and the wolves of Isloch from the current top six in the division ended last season in one of those prime positions. And it’s Isloch who’ve perhaps won over the most outsiders thanks to their small, but idiosyncratic band of supporters – including in their number an accordion player who performs throughout the game, that is apart from when the club mascot, dressed as a wolf steals it from him!

And in Momo Yansane, they perhaps boast one of the better strikers in the league.

What of the big 3?

Dynamo Brest, who ended BATE Borisov’s 13-year monopoly on the championship in dramatic circumstances in 2019 currently sit well off the pace down in 10th having won just 2 of their opening 5 games.

For their part, BATE look to have steadied the ship after their shaky start and with a game against Gorodeya coming up this weekend, they could move into the top 4.

That leaves us with Dinamo Minsk, the only Belarusian side to ever win the top Soviet league before the fall of the Iron Curtain. The have not done well, in fact they’ve even sacked their manager in a bid to turn the tide. At present, they sit just 1 point above the relegation zone.

This Weekend

We’ll have coverage of all Round 6 fixtures in the app but make sure you check for KO times where you are.

Games to look out for include a first test for Dinamo Minsk’s new coach, Leonid Kuchuk as they face Smolevichi this afternoon.

On Saturday there’s a clash between last years’ champions and the side who finished 3rd as Dynamo Brest host Shakhter and on Sunday, FK Slutsk vs. Belshina sees the top side play bottom and 2nd placed, Vitebsk travel to Isloch.

For more of this kind of thing, make sure you give us a follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.