Football has resumed in The Faroe Islands, making the north Atlantic archipelago’s league one of the first globally to resume following a tumultous couple of months dominated by COVID-19 closures and cancellations.
The Betri League, a 10-team competition which is the top professional football league for the population of just over 50,000 people (for context, our own Gozo has some 31,000), will be kicking off today through matches played in empty stadiums… and soccer-starved fans from all over the world will definitely be tuning in.
“There has been some international interest in the league and that is new for us,” chairman of the islands’ Football Association competitions committee Roin Schroter said in an interview. “But we have a very good league and a lot of foreign players from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Serbia.”
Recording zero COVID-19 deaths, The Faroe Islands have just this morning announced no more active cases out of their total 187.
The archipelago’s population density has definitely helped; at 1,400 square kilometres and a population of 52,110 as of January 2020, a poulation less than Gozo’s lives in an area four times bigger than all of Malta.
“If someone in one of the teams gets infected, we have breaks built in to the competition that we can use, or we can move up the dates of the competition,” Schroter said, explaining how the lonely isles, situated about 600 kilometres north of Scotland, are still taking precautions despite their practically negligible cases.
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— HEIMUR HB Tórshavn ????⚫ (@heimurhb) May 8, 2020
Meanwhile, closer to home, European football has showed some cautious signs of returning.
The German Bundesliga was recently given the green light to resume behind closed doors on 16th May, while the Belarusian Premier League has carried on despite the global pandemic.
This week, Spanish league La Liga started testing players for COVID-19 ahead of a return to elite football in the country. The popular Spanish league is expected to restart – also behind closed doors – in June. Yesterday, superstar players like Lionel Messi were spotted returning to individual training, in a sight that must’ve delighted football fans worldwide.
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— FC Barcelona (from ????) (@FCBarcelona) May 8, 2020
As for Italy, the fate of the Serie A championship was left in limbo this week after a slew of positive cases coming from players and staff from Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Torino following others at Juventus.
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, will have to observe a 14-day quarantine after returning to Italy from nearly two months of confinement in his home country.
Following a stalemate on Thursday, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora has said he’s “hopeful” team training could resume on 18th May.
Featured Photo by Eileen Sandá