Coronavirus Outbreak: Faroe Islands' Betri League garners international spotlights as world deals with football shutdown
The windswept north Atlantic archipelago, with a population of about 50,000, is among the first countries where professional football is resuming after the coronavirus outbreak
Stockholm: It may not be the biggest in the world, but the Faroe Islands’ Betri League will for once be in the spotlight when its season kicks off on Saturday.
The windswept north Atlantic archipelago, with a population of about 50,000, is among the first countries where professional football is resuming after the coronavirus outbreak though matches will for now be played in empty stadiums.
The Faroe Islands are minnows of European football. But officials say its 10-team top division is attracting more attention than usual as football-starved fans seek out games to watch as they await the reopening of the world’s top leagues.
“There has been some international interest in the league and that is new for us, but we have a very good league and a lot of foreign players from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Serbia,” Roin Schroter, chairman of the competitions committee of the Faroe Islands Football Association, said in an interview.
He told Reuters a deal had been reached for matches to be televised and shown abroad but gave no details.
South Korea’s K league was starting on Friday.
In Europe, Germany’s Bundesliga has been given the green light to resume on 16 May and the Belarusian Premier League, one of Europe’s less glamorous competitions, carried on with matches despite the coronavirus outbreak.
Situated about 600 km (370 miles) north of Scotland, the Faroes has reported no deaths from the coronavirus but plans are in place in case a player tests positive for the virus.
“If someone in one of the teams gets infected, we have breaks built into the competition that we can use, or we can move up the dates of the competition,” Schroter said.
He said, “all the clubs understand what we are doing, and they agree with the things we are doing.”
Joannes Bjartalid, a 23-year-old midfielder for champions Klaksvikar Itrottarfelag, shrugged off any concerns about catching the coronavirus .
“I am very much looking forward to the season,” Bjartalid said. “There was a lockdown here, but we only stopped training for 10 days. Then we trained in groups of five, then half and half, and then all the players have been training together for about a month now.”
Four-time world champions Germany now have a six-point lead in Group J after beating Romania in Hamburg, while the Dutch collected three points in a 1-0 win over Latvia which kept them in charge of Group G.
Nagelsmann missed Wednesday's 4-0 thrashing of Benfica in Lisbon after being taken ill and his assistant coaches Dino Toppmoeller and Xaver Zembrod took over duties on the bench.
Some supporters wore traditional robes and others donned headdresses for Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham, the Magpies' first game under their new owners.