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August 2021

Everything you didn’t know about BATE and probably want to keep it that way

By Tony Attwood

You know the joke about the Greek league and how Olympiacos have won it seven times in a row and ten times in the last 11 seasons (Panathinaikos getting in the way just once).

Well that’s nothing.  At least nothing when compared with Belarus.  Here’s their list of champions in recent years

Season Winners Second Hardly worth turning up
BATE Borisov Dinamo Minsk Shakhtyor Soligorsk
BATE Borisov Gomel Shakhtyor Soligorsk
BATE Borisov Dinamo Minsk MTZ-RIPO Minsk
BATE Borisov Dinamo Minsk Dnepr Mogilev
BATE Borisov Shakhtyor Soligorsk Minsk
BATE Borisov Shakhtyor Soligorsk Gomel
BATE Borisov Shakhtyor Soligorsk Dinamo Minsk
BATE Borisov Shakhtyor Soligorsk Dinamo Minsk
BATE Borisov Dinamo Minsk Shakhtyor Soligorsk
BATE Borisov Dinamo Minsk Shakhtyor Soligorsk
BATE Borisov Shakhtyor Soligorsk Dinamo Minsk

Yes there is a certain pattern about this.  Through the 21st century BATE Borisov has dominated the league, winning eleven championships in a row, and becoming the first Belarusian team to reach the group stage of the Champions League (doing so four times between 2008 and 2015) and twice in the Europa League (2009 and 2010).

Their season runs through the calendar year, not the European football season, and in 2013 the league’s player of the year was Alexander Hleb.  A name with which to conjure.

Belarus has been ruled since 1994 by President Alexander Lukashenko the former director of the state farms and chair of the anti-corruption committee.  It is written (but I have not been able to check so am merely taking what I read) that “Opposition figures are subjected to harsh penalties for organising protests.” In 2005, Belarus was listed by the US as Europe’s only remaining “outpost of tyranny”.

Rather like BATE winning the league year after year so Alexander Lukashenko wins the election time after time – he won his fifth term as president in October 2015, but then no significant opposition candidate was allowed to stand.

Belarus has been criticised by organisations that consider the issues of human rights for suppressing free speech, censoring the press and denying the opposition access to the media, so if you are going you might want to double check the chants that are utilised. Reporters Without Borders placed Belarus 157th out of 180 countries in its 2015 World Press Freedom Index.

TV is the main news source in Belarussia and there are eight national channels.  Unfortunately they are all controlled by the state.  They take their news from the Russian networks, but then censor them in case anything unacceptable is said by those pesky Russians with their vibrant and open attitude towards personal liberty.

Corruption is, according what I can gather (and gathering is what I have been doing as I have not been personally in person to the country myself) present at all government levels in Belarus.   “While petty corruption is relatively limited, high level corruption occurs with impunity” according to the Belarus Corruption Report.  This is said to take in extortion, bribery and money laundering.

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And yes it reaches football.  One top manager of Dynama, Uladzimir Berazhkou, spent eight months in prison before Lukashenka pardoned and released him after he re-paid $65,000 which was at the centre of a corruption dispute.   Despite this he then got the job of head of the Department of Marketing and Communication in the Belarusian Football Federation immediately after his release.  Sounds rather like Fifa.

The latest corruption scandal in the Belarusian Football Federation took place in January 2017, when head of the Judiciary Department Andrei Zhukau received five years imprisonment for bribery. The investigation revealed that between 2014 and 2016 he had been given $650 and a bottle of Cognac by referees and coaches as a reward for referee appointments on Belarusian football league matches.  Oh dear.

But this year something odd is happening.  This is the most recent league table I can find… Isloch Minsk have had seven points deducted and Naftan five.  I don’t know why.  But more to the point BATE might not win the league, although their recent results are rather good.

Pos Club GP W D L GF GA Pts
1  Soligorsk 23 16 5 2 39 13 53
2  Dinamo Minsk 23 17 1 5 33 12 52
3  BATE Borisov 23 16 3 4 44 11 51
4  Zhodino 23 10 8 5 32 18 38
5  Slutsk 23 10 7 6 23 23 37
6  FC Vitebsk 23 10 6 7 26 23 36
7  Neman Grodno 23 10 6 7 30 23 36
8  Dinamo Brest 23 9 7 7 33 23 34
9  Gorodeya 23 7 10 6 26 25 31
10  Gomel 23 6 7 10 18 20 25
11  Dnepr Mogilev 22 5 6 11 19 34 21
12  Krumkachy Minsk 23 4 8 11 21 36 20
13  Slavia Mozyr 23 4 7 12 21 37 19
14  FC Minsk 23 3 10 10 13 29 19
15  Isloch Minsk 22 4 3 15 14 37 8
16  Naftan 23 3 4 16 11 39 8

So it should all be rather jolly, as long as no one speaks out of turn.

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12 comments to Everything you didn’t know about BATE and probably want to keep it that way

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    What I’ve deduced from this article posting suggests to me that Belarus is one of the disintegrated old USSR 15 Republics. But is still heavily dependent on Russian economic and media support to stand well. Thus consequently, the Belarusians who are depending on the Russian economy to stand strongly on their feet are forced to toss the line of Russian communism style of governance being disguised as socialism but authoritarialism in outlook operating under one authoritarian ruler of president Vladimir Putin of Russia who is the Russian socialist regime authoritarian ruler currently ruling but cannot be credibly challenged by any opposition candidate contesting in any Russian pesidential elections. And this is the same pattern of rulership the Belarusia politics has adopted apparently under the orders of Russian authorities as being guided by president Alexandre Lukashenko, the current Belarus president. Hmmm.

    BATE – Borisov, do I know anything about them and have I ever watched them playing on the TV before? No. But since they’ve been regular champions of the Belarusia League, I might have watched them playing in the CL or Europa on the TV before but I can’t remember if did.

    But nevertheless, Arsenal will know very much about their opposition BATE-Borisov opponent team they’ll play against on Thursday night in the Europa League round two group stage match.

    Having said this, I believe the 2nd string of the senior Gunners team and the bench mostly comprising of the junior Gunners which Le Prof will select and plays for this match will be more than competent and capable to deal successfully with any opposition in the game BATE and their partisan home support have in their apt to throw in the game against Arsenal and the Gunners will put BATE to sword in the game to leave them counting their losses at the final whistle ending the match.

  • OlegYch

    a few things to clarify:
    Berazhkou was indicted due to relationship with hockey (favourite sport of the so-called president) club Dynamo
    football club Dynamo is also riddled with so-called president associates
    Isloch was deducted points because of on-going match-fixing scandal (unrelated to Zhukau)
    Naftan was deducted points because of 3 years delay in payments to players

  • OlegYch

    SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin, you’re mostly right

  • OlegYch

    one more thing, every club in top tier is owned by the government except Krumkachy, who are currently trying to raise money to keep them afloat

  • OlegYch

    BATE is genuinely the best team in league though, mostly due to Platini induced cash
    they’ve drawn Juve twice, beat and drawn Milan, beat Everton and Bayern, so not really an easy side

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thank god , it’ll be a one of trip . It is , isn’t it ? Next year we be back with the REAL big boys !
    Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And while waiting for the game , why don’t you try this ? After all , there are so many here who believe they know everything . Jerks of all trades , but master of none !

    FINAL LAW EXAM PAPER (extracted from a real exam): A woman was driving an old Honda City car when she mistakenly hit a new Range Rover. The lady came out from her Range Rover, insulted the other lady for not being careful and demanded her to repair her Range Rover. The woman with the Honda City car called her husband. He replied that he was busy, that she should try fix up things and that they will meet later at home.

    The lady with the Range Rover then called her boyfriend and said, “Sweetheart, someone just hit the birthday gift you gave me. I am so angry. Please come over.”

    A few minutes later her boyfriend arrived. He is the husband of the lady with the Honda City car.

    Discuss the possible legal consequences for all three parties. (20 Marks).

  • para

    “In 2005, Belarus was listed by the US as Europe’s only remaining “outpost of tyranny”.”

    I think this means they (Belarus) are all right man, they must be all right if the mighty US, that den of tyranny and corruption attacks them. 🙂

    The corrupt and liars usually always attack the “innocent” and try to make them look “guilty” to detract from their own failings. Take a wander down hisstory lane and see what i mean.

  • Pat

    I think Belarus is demonised in the west because it has refused to go along with other countries which have been swallowed up by the EU and NATO.

    One further fact about Belarus – when they were occupied by fascist Germany in the Second World War, 628 villages in Belarus were destroyed by the occupiers and all their inhabitants brutally murdered.

  • Josif


    I like to look at things with balance. If we want to be realistic, Belarus is hardly close to any democratic standard with their (it seems) lifelong president.

    However, it’s true that (ex-)communist countries who had been either occupied or suffered major atrocities during World War II by Nazis don’t get enough credit by the Western countries.

    Speaking of BATE, there was a title after their draw against Juventus away four years ago: “Juventus couldn’t master BATE”.

  • Wenger warrior

    What is wrong with you?

  • Nonny

    @ Bricksfield

    The woman with the Honda will get into the Rover and drive away living her husband and his lover to check the legal implications of their action.