Global players' union FIFPro blasts Belarus as play goes on

Why is football still being played in Belarus? (1:24)

Gab Marcotti explains why the Belarusian league, including the Minsk derby, were still playing this weekend. (1:24)

Players in Belarus are worried about playing games in the only European top-tier league still in action during the coronavirus pandemic, their global union (FIFPro) said on Tuesday.

"Frankly, it's not comprehendible how this can be going on," Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of the FIFPro players' union, told reporters in a conference call.

"Yes, there are players who are reaching out concerned," Baer-Hoffmann said, noting there are union members in Belarus though the FIFPro network does not have an affiliate in the former Soviet country.

Baer-Hoffmann said failing to complete the current season was not an option at the moment.

"Everyone in football will lose out if that happens," he said. "I don't think it's responsible to make that consideration at the moment.

"If we have any chance of finishing the season, we have to do so because the impact for players and everyone else in the game will be great if we don't."

There have been some suggestions that the current season could extend to August or September, with the subsequent campaign beginning later. However, some clubs have indicated that the current season should be scrapped.

Baer-Hoffmann said FIFPro had seen both good and bad responses to the crisis.

"There is a club in Serbia which voluntarily pre-paid all salaries until June and they have reached a collective agreement in Costa Rica over the payment of wages," he said.

But Baer-Hoffmann added that there had also been cases of clubs using the crisis as an excuse to terminate contracts early, sack players or declare bankruptcy simply as an instrument for not paying bills and wages.

He praised players at Juventus and Barcelona who had agreed to take pay cuts, saying it was a "strong signal that should be commended," but added that the example should not be used to pressure those at smaller clubs.

"We had clubs from Indonesia using that to justify wage cuts," he said. "It is very important to take into account the vastly different economic circumstances, even the lowest clubs in Serie A are very different to Juventus."

"We can only appeal to common sense that those measures taken by the elite clubs and players cannot just be transferred downwards.

"We have people literally on between €300 and €1,000 ($330 and $1,100) a month, for them to consider a pay cut is a different story."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.