Nicaragua, football, and the Coronavirus crisis

The last time I was in Nicaragua (you can read about that here), the country was most definitely all about baseball, even on the English-speaking east coast. A taxi driver tour of Corn Island included stops at all the baseball fields that could possibly fit on a tiy Carribean Island (ie, many).

So, here we are ten years later reading how the country’s football players are dealing with having to play games even when they feel at risk. And yes, some teams take the field in masks and gloves.

Nicaragua

As Nick Ames writes for The Guardian:

Nicaragua’s league is one of only three competitions in the world – with Belarus and Burundi (note: you can also now add Tajikistan) – continuing to operate during the coronavirus crisis and the decision to press on has sparked fear and disbelief.

“Our players do not want to continue playing,” the general manager of Diriangén, Sergio Salazar, says. “They are very afraid and we understand them. We want to suspend the tournament but all the clubs have voted and the majority want to continue.”

Part of the challenge? Many teams in Nicaragua are either directly “owned” or at least operated by the state or government agencies.

“Not stopping the league is a result of the government’s urgency to prove a normality that doesn’t exist,” journalist Camilo Velásquez told The Guardian. “Since 2018 they’ve been desperate to show things are back to normal and part of that includes functioning sports. Coronavirus became a big threat because they are scared of a general strike and shutting everything down would pretty much allow that.”

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