Sports, Americas

Nicaraguan soccer league plays on despite pandemic

Despite leagues on all continents suspending activities, some countries have decided to keep the ball rolling

Laura Gamba   | 16.04.2020
Nicaraguan soccer league plays on despite pandemic

BOGOTA, Colombia 

Nicaraguan soccer has never been so popular -- even amid the global coronavirus pandemic.   

While most countries have suspended sports activities as part of measures to combat the virus, life goes on as usual in some places, including the Central American nation. 

Nicaragua’s soccer league -- along with those of Belarus, Burundi and Tajikistan -- continues to play. 

Apparently Europe, the continent with the most competitive soccer league in the world, wants to transmit Nicaragua’s Liga Primera games. Nicaraguan Soccer Federation General Secretary José María Bermúdez told the AS newspaper on April 6 that European TV stations had asked to televise their soccer games. 

But the sports calendar in Nicaragua does not only include soccer. Boxing, baseball and marathons are also taking place as authorities do what they can to allow life to carry on. 

Doctors have been told not to alarm patients by wearing masks, children still attend school, borders are open and social isolation measures are not well known there. 

Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is also the nation’s first lady, promoted a mandatory rally for public officials in March, calling it "Love in the time of COVID-19".  

And while Murillo organized massive events, the president was nowhere to be seen. After a 32-day absence that fueled rumors about a possible illness or death, Daniel Ortega appeared in public Wednesday night, speaking in a national address. 

Ortega devoted his speech almost entirely to the coronavirus. He sent his "condolences to those who are suffering from COVID-19” and called for "solidarity and unity among all people." 

"The world has been left bare with this pandemic," he said.

With nine confirmed coronavirus cases and one death, Nicaragua is the Central American country with the lowest number of reported cases, while its neighbors Honduras and Costa Rica have 419 and 626 respectively.

On April 8, the Pan American Health Organization publicly questioned Nicaragua’s response.

“We have concerns over the lack of social distancing, the convening of mass gatherings. We have concerns about the testing, contact tracing, the reporting of cases. We also have concerns about what we see as inadequate infection prevention and control,” said Director Carissa Etienne.

Some players have also expressed their concern over the situation. But for soccer industry authorities, “the show must go on.”

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