Sports News

Curfew forces Belgium to move home venue for internationals

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium have been forced to move their three soccer internationals in November from Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium to nearby Leuven because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The friendly against Switzerland on Nov. 11 plus Nations League matches versus England on Nov. 15 and Denmark on Nov. 18 will now be played at Den Dreef in Leuven, some 30km from the Belgian capital.

The switch comes after a 10pm curfew was imposed on Brussels as the Belgian government battles with a dramatic rise in novel coronavirus infections.

“Because of the curfew it is now impossible to host games in Brussels,” said a statement from the Belgian Football Association on Friday.

The stadium in Leuven has hosted matches for the Belgium under-21s as well as the women’s national team but it is the first time the currently top-ranked men’s side will play there.

Belgium is one of the worst affected European countries, recording an average of 15,316 new coronavirus infections per day in mid-October, health officials said on Friday.

The country has one of the world’s highest fatality figures per capita from the virus and now, in the second wave, has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 infections. [nL8N2HL476]

Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris