Former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder has opened up on the worrying lack of recognition towards coronavirus in Belarus.
Not only has the footballing calendar not been halted, but daily life has seen no changes, despite multiple countries going into lockdown across Europe amid fears of spreading COVID-19.
However, Hleb, who only retired last season after a stint in the Belarusian Premier League, has revealed that there are no changes in his homeland of Belarus due to the global pandemic.
“People are working in tractors, no one is talking about the virus,” he said. “In the villages, the tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone.
“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.”
Football is also yet to see any changes due to coronavirus worries, but Hleb thinks the Football Federation of Belarus have made the wrong call to allow fixtures to continue, unlike other European leagues.
Hleb added: “All the world now watches the Belarusian league. Everybody should go to their television and see us.
“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.
“The coronavirus has closed the Champions League and the Europa League. This is good, because you have to try and stop it. Uefa have done the right thing.”
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