Meet Burundi – a country where playing football, despite the coronavirus

Burundi is a small country in the Central part of the African continent, which according to the UN classification included in the cohort of the least developed countries of the world. Until recently, this country remained one of the few on the planet, which was not detected and confirmed a single case of coronavirus COVID-19. As of today, as evidenced by the data of Johns Hopkins University in Burundi registered only 3 cases of coronavirus, but we are more interesting not it, but the fact that this country is one of the few in the world, where they continue to play football, and with the audience!

Burundi national team is 149th in the latest FIFA rankings (February 2020), and has no more or less significant achievements. Moreover, Burundians do not always participated in the qualifiers for the world Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations due to various factors in the history there were many cases when the national team of Burundi corny was removed from the qualification tournaments.

Now, however, to Burundi, Willy-nilly attracted the attention of a certain part of football fans from all over the world. This, above all, those fans of the “game of millions”, which is interesting to watch retro games, or gambling fans loving to watch football and bet on it. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is almost completely cleaned out the line of bookmakers, but because the championship of Burundi – one of the few options remaining to account for firms and their clients.

For example, last weekend in the League And (elite division of the football League system in Burundi) were played the matches of 27 rounds, in which the leader of the tournament “Le Messager Ngozi” sensationally on the road broke a tie with “Vital On” (0:0), and in the struggle outsiders “Olympic legacy” not a stone was left from “Lydia Ludic” (6:0).

 

 

After the match, reporting the tour guide of the local football held a meeting with the Minister of public health and AIDS Thaddeus Ndikumana, in which the parties came to the conclusion about the possibility to continue playing the first and second battalions of the championship of the Burundi football “in compliance with hygienic measures at the stage of organization and holding of a competitive process”. In particular, all players before entering the field were obliged to wash hands thoroughly.

But do not rush to laugh with Africans. Burundi was one of the first countries on the continent that appealed to the Confederation of African football with a request to postpone the planned for March qualifiers to the Africa Cup of Nations. This proposal was prompted by the decision of the leadership of the football Federation of Burundi to abandon the call in the main team of foreign players. By the way, those much, because about half of the players from the national team of Burundi are abroad from Kenya to Lithuania, Austria and the USA.

On the 13th of March in Burundi was introduced fairly strict regime of quarantine, the international airport of Bujumbura takes only a cargo aircraft, and any Burundian who crossed the state border on land compulsory is directed to a two-week quarantine.

“We respect the measures of the government. I believe that the problem lies in the global nature of the spread of the virus. At the same time, football as a mass, in many countries suspended, but in Burundi continues. We have no reason for serious limitation of the usual of living of the population”, – commented the Executive Secretary of the football Federation of Burundi Jeremy Manirakiza.

Also in Burundi in the normal way held ceremonies of weddings, business conferences and other events. This is not a condemnation of the society in the country, and therefore the abolition of football tournaments seriously on the agenda is not worth it, as well as the suspension of competitions in basketball, beach soccer and volleyball, which are also held normally.

At the same time the goalkeeper of the national team of Burundi Justin journalists in aftermath of failed faced with a different interpretation of the situation around coronavirus. 27-year-old goalkeeper playing for the club “Sofapaka” from Kenya, where already identified 158 cases of infection COVID-19 (50 times more than in Burundi), and 6 people died.

“In Burundi so far recorded only a few cases of infection with coronavirus, although there is not yet a full-fledged official information and it is under verification. For this reason, in my country, life goes on. Yes, they closed the border and even airports-but only in order to avoid the inflow of infected people from the outside. Such restrictions are working, because in the country less opportunity to get infected. Wait a few months to see what measures will be effective. While no one can say clearly,” – said journalists in aftermath of failed.

At the same time, the goalkeeper stressed that in Kenya, mass events, including football, were banned after the identification of only three cases of infection with coronavirus. “In Kenya as soon as the spread of infections, the government immediately took a decision to cancel all mass events, because the infection tends to spread very fast,” said the journalists in aftermath of failed.

However, not all Burundians who fled their home country, tend to trust official figures. For example, a 30-year-old striker of the national team of Burundi Laudit Mavuso, who plays for “the NAPs of Stars” from Zambia, believes that the leadership of the state did not disclose the whole truth to its citizens.

“They say that in Burundi there are no signs of a pandemic, but I don’t think so. Of course, there are many cases, but I don’t know why the authorities prefer to remain silent about them. This is truly shocking, as I fear for my country and countrymen. In the end, my family and friends live in Burundi. Many around saying that God will protect our country, but that is no reason to continue to play football and to pretend that nothing is happening,” says Mavuso.

Ultimately, the decision on the termination of the competition Burundi football as well as the cancellation of other events in the country should be at the top. In the case of Burundi, it is not only about the official government, but also influential in this country the Catholic Church. In particular, last weekend, the Archbishop of Bujumbura Gervais of Basilious urged people to pray for the suppression of coronavirus, but insisted that the Church doors are closed, and the mass will not be cancelled. The only thing that went until Burundian clergy is the imposition of certain restrictive measures, such as avoiding any touches of people to each other during the services, and the denial of access to the premises of the Church with obvious signs of respiratory diseases.

In this regard, there is a sense that in a country where the Catholic Church has so much influence on public opinion, it is Basilious and other influential dignitaries and will determine when public life in Burundi may change. So far, everything looks in such a way that this African country is almost the last in the world where it will cease to conduct official football matches for fear of the wide spread of the coronavirus, especially as to the completion of the League season And left to play only three rounds…

Alexey SLEPCHENKO

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