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Community Corner: Belarus still has soccer; let’s pick a team to support

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Our options are limited so let’s adopt a team

Belarusian Premier League: Dinamo Brest vs Isloch Minsk District Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

As the sports world shuts down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the eyes of soccer fans turn to the great nation of Belarus, where the Belarusian Premier League remains the only professional soccer league still playing its games.

For those Union fans looking for a team to support, here’s a quick breakdown of all the Belarusian Premier League teams so that you can find your perfect team (thanks for the idea @TallahasseeUnion). Please note that these are in order of how they appear on the table, not by order of how appealing they are.

For those looking for easy points, you can look to FC Torpedo BelAZ Zhodino and FC Energetik-BGU Minsk-BGU Minsk, the top two teams in the table. Both teams are 3-1-0, but while Torpedo BelAZ stands at the top of the table, Energetik-BGU has won its last three games after dropping its first match.

Torpedo BelAZ was founded almost 60 years ago, in 1961. Last year they finished sixth in the league, and made it to the third round of the UEFA Europa League in the 2016-2017 season.

The team is also proud of its history and has a very in-depth look at the teams past on their website.

Energetik-BGU was founded in 1996, and while they finished in twelfth place last year, they’ve started off hot to jump to second this season. The BGU in the name stands for “Belarusian State University,” and while I couldn’t figure out if they were actually college students, the team does have the nickname, “The Students”.

In third place in the BPL (I don’t want to type Belarusian Premier League 20 times) comes FC Slutsk. They currently have seven points to their name, and have a 2-1-1 record. Slutsk, like the Union, rock blue and white kits, and have an animal mascot as well. For those who are big fans of Phang, they might want to look towards Slutsk’s pegasus as the next best thing.

In fourth place comes FC Vitebsk. The team did finish in 11th place last year in the regular-season standings, however, they were the runners-up in the Domestic Cup. They have made it to International stages of play three times, including last year, though they have never advanced past the first round.

Fifth place brings us FC Slavia Mozyr, who finished in 8th last year, but was eliminated from playoff contention in the round of 32 in the Domestic Cup. It’s been a while since they’ve seen international play, as the last time they made a UEFA tournament came in the 2001-2002 season, where they were eliminated in the second round. I will say that I’m hesitant about throwing my support behind Slavia, as they share a red-black color scheme in their logo with D.C. United.

FC BATE vs FC Rukh: Belarus Championship
Players of FC BATE and FC Rukh vie for the ball during the Belarus Championship football match between FC BATE and FC Rukh
Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Next up we’ve got FC BATE Borisov, who might be Philly’s Belarusian team. BATE wears blue and yellow, similar to the Union’s blue and gold. Additionally, their current fifth place standing is something Union fans are familiar with, but they still offer hope of better finishes, as they placed first in BPL standings from 2006-2018. Unfortunately, they have dropped their last two matches and will have to bounce back to get closer to the top of the table.

In seventh place comes FC Isloch Minsk Raion, the second (but not last) Minsk team in the BPL. While Isloch does have an animal mascot (a bear), the team logo is a little bit dark, and the bear does not look like they shoot T-shirts into crowds at soccer games. While they have never played internationally, they did make it to the semi-finals last year in the Belarusian Domestic Cup, so they have some potential for success.

Standing in eighth in the BPL is FC Gorodeya, a very young club. They joined the BPL in 2015, and were founded in 2004, though not as a soccer club. Originally a futsal team, the team switched to soccer in 2007, and worked its way to the Premier League in the next eight years. They finished in seventh last year, and don’t have any international records. However, they have not just one, but two snakes in their crest, giving them some potential as a second home for Union fans.

At the top of the bottom half of the table comes FC Minsk (yes, another Minsk). After finishing in ninth last year, the team seems to be content, as they are still sitting in ninth with a 2-2-0 record. While recent records don’t show much potential, they have a strong history, making it to the play-off round in the UEFA Europa League in the 2013-2014 season. Unfortunately, the red and white third kit might cause some mixed feelings for Union fans, so it may be best to stay away.

Tenth place gives us FC Neman Grodno, who has spent the last twenty-seven years in the BPL. They are rarely the best team, however, they were able to make international play four times, the most recent coming in the 2014-15 season, where they made it to the second round of the Europa league tournament.

Coming in at eleventh place is FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk. While their current standings may confuse you, they are consistently one of the best teams in the BPL. They have played in the Europa League every year since the 2011-12 season, and won the Domestic Cup last year. They sport gold and black uniforms, which, while similar to the colors of the Columbus Crew, match the Union’s 2010 gold kit and the 2013 black kit. For those looking for success and a level of familiarity, Shakhtyor may be the way to go.

Belarusian Premier League: Dinamo Brest vs Isloch Minsk District
Dinamo Brest’s Kirill Pechenin (L front) and Isloch Minsk District players jump to head the ball in a 2020 Belarusian Premier League Round 4 football match between Dinamo Brest and Isloch Minsk District at Brestsky Stadium.
Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

FC Dinamo Brest is the twelfth place team in the BPL, and they have shown strong play in the last few years. They are headed for this year’s Europa League, and have reached international play three times in the past four years. Unfortunately, due to the facts that they share their name with the Houston Dynamo and that their primary kit looks much like NYCFC’s primary kit, it would be hard to choose them as a Union fans Belarusian team.

Thirteenth place shows FC Rukh Brest, an infant club in the world of Belarusian soccer. Founded in 2016 as an amateur team, the club made itself a farm team of Dinamo Brest until they disbanded and joined the Belarusian Second League in 2018. They won the Second League that same year, and then went on to place third in the Belarusian First League in 2019, earning promotion to the BPL. While they are off to a shaky start, they look to repeat previous year’s success and push up the standings.

In fourteenth place stands FC Dinamo Minsk, giving us our fourth Minsk team. They have a strong history, with good finishes domestically in the last two decades, and they’ve reached international play each year since 2001. They also sport the blue and white jerseys, same as Philadelphia. For Union fans who aren’t looking to buy new jerseys and hope for success, Dinamo Minsk may be a strong option.

Standing strong in fifteenth place is FC Smolevichi, a club with a short and shaky history. They were founded in 2009, reached the Belarusian First League in 2013, and have bounced between the First League and the Premier League since 2017. Despite finishing 2nd in the First League last year, their current standing and club history hint that they may be looking at relegation at the end of this year.

And finally, in sixteenth and last place, FC Belshina Bobruisk brings up the rear. With a strong one point to their name, Belshina returns to the BPL this year after three years of relegation to the First League. Belshina may have little to offer, and their kits may give off possible D.C. United energy, they are a great team for anybody who is very invested in supporting an underdog.

There you have it, the sixteen best active soccer teams in the world. Be sure to take our poll to let us know who you’ll be supporting during this Belarusian Premier League Season. We’ll also accept votes via Twitter and Facebook or in the comments below.

Poll

What team should Union fans support in the Belarus Premier League?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Torpedo BelAZ
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Energetyk-BGU
    (0 votes)
  • 30%
    Slutsk
    (9 votes)
  • 3%
    Vitebsk
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Minsk
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Isloch
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Slavia
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Gorodeya
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Neman Grodno
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    Shakhtyor
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Dinamo Brest
    (1 vote)
  • 33%
    BATE
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Ruh Brest
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    Dinamo Minsk
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Smolevichy-STI
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Belshina
    (0 votes)
30 votes total Vote Now