London, March 24: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could move to Belarus to get their football fix amid the coronavirus pandemic, joked former Arsenal and Barcelona star Alexander Hleb.
COVID-19 has disrupted sport across the globe, with the Premier League, Serie A, LaLiga, Bundesliga & Ligue 1 postponed, while Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 have been pushed back a year.
However, it is business as usual in Belarus – where the Belarusian Premier League season started on Thursday, with fans in attendance.
Belarusian Hleb tried to make light of the situation as he flagged his home country as a possible destination for Barcelona's Messi and Juventus superstar Ronaldo.
"All the world now watches the Belarusian league. Everybody should go to their television and see us," Hleb told The Sun.
"When the NHL closed the season, a lot of ice hockey players went to Russia to play. Maybe Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might come to the Belarus league to continue. You know?
"It's the only place in Europe you can play football. At least then the people of Belarus will be happy."
In Belarus, there have been at least 81 coronavirus cases but no deaths.
Globally, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 16,500 people from more than 378,900 cases.
Hleb added: "The coronavirus has closed the Champions League and the Europa League. This is good, because you have to try and stop it. UEFA has done the right thing.
"But in Belarus, it's like no one cares. It's incredible. Maybe in one week or two weeks we will stop here. Maybe our President is just waiting to see what happens with the virus.
"Everybody here knows what's happened to Italy and Spain. It doesn't look good.
"But in our country, people in the presidential administration believe it's not as extreme as the news says.
"A lot of young people and students here think like this. I'm keeping at home with my family. But when I go out, the streets and restaurants are still busy."