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Football restarts in Europe as Faroe Islands kick off season

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Football restarts in Europe as Faroe Islands kick off season
Copyright  AFP
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The first football in western Europe to restart since the coronavirus outbreak has taken place not in one of Europe's elite leagues, but in the Faroe Islands.

It might be a tiny country, with a population of just 50,000 people, but it has a big appetite for the beautiful game.

A self-governing archipelago, but part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the country currently sits at number 110 in FIFA's official rankings.

As the coronavirus pandemic spread across Europe, Faroese football joined all the other leagues in being forced to shut down.

However two months after the season was supposed to begin, the top league in the country kicked off on the weekend, with matches being played behind closed doors.

Vikingur captain Atli Gregersen said: "We play for the fans, so it's very hard to play a game without spectators...but with a little luck, it will soon be over and we can have our fans back again."

"My wishes are that people are healthy and safe, and hopefully we can put a smile back on their faces by trying to play some football," he added.

"Someone will probably think that it's bad football, but they will see the passion in our faces when we get to be kids again and play football."

Three-time national champions Vikingur were held to a goalless draw by Argja Bóltfelag, in a match that some supporters came to watch from outside the small stadium.

"I think it's fantastic that we're the first country in Europe to start football again," said Sverri Petersen, an Argja Bóltfelag supporter.

"And I also think it's fantastic that other countries like Norway and Denmark are watching Faroese football now, so maybe the Faroese football can be more international and more people will become interested in Faroese football, because we are a small country, but we love football, and it's a very high priority for us."