Football in Armenia

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Football (Armenian: ֆուտբոլ futbol or votnagndak Armenian: ոտնագնդակ) is the most popular sport in Armenia.

As of August 2014, the Armenian national football team is 36th in FIFA World Rankings. Since gaining independence in 1991, Armenia has had its own national association that takes part in all FIFA competitions (Senior, Youth and Women's Football). FC Ararat Yerevan were one of the leading teams in the top league in the Soviet Union, often playing in European club competitions.

A number of Armenian players played for the USSR national team, including Khoren Oganesian at the 1982 FIFA World Cup and Eduard Markarov in the 1960s.[1] Markarov later became assistant coach of the Soviet Union's youth team, and was part of the coaching staff at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Portugal in 1991, when the team finished 3rd.

History[edit]

Araks Football Club, Constantinople, 1910s.

Early period (before 1920s)[edit]

In the early 20th century, the first Armenian football clubs were founded in Constantinople, Smyrna and many other cities within the Ottoman Empire.[2]

The first game between Armenian and Turkish teams was recorded in 1906. Armenian club called Balta-Liman (after a neighborhood of Constantinople, now called Baltalimanı) met with Galatasaray. Later, Balta-Liman was dissolved and two new clubs were founded: Araks and Tork.

After the break-out of World War I and the Genocide of the Armenians was ordered, all athletic activities have stopped.

Soviet era (1920s-1991)[edit]

Oldest records of football teams in Soviet Armenia goes back to 1926-1927, when the Trans-Caucasian Championship was organized in Tbilisi. Three South Caucasian countries participated: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.[3]

The first professional club in Armenia was established in 1935 as Spartak and was later renamed Ararat. FC Ararat Yerevan is notable for its wins in the Soviet Championship and the Cup in 1973. FC Ararat also reached the quarter-finals of the 1974–75 European Cup, losing to the eventual champions, Franz Beckenbauer's FC Bayern Munich. The first stadium in Armenia was named Spartak as well, built in the late 1920s in front of what is now the Yerevan Circus.

In 1958, FC Shirak was founded in Gyumri (then Leninakan), and played in the Soviet First League until Armenia's independence in 1991.

Independent Armenia (1992—present)[edit]

October 11, 2011, Ireland vs. Armenia, Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Football became the most popular sport in independent Armenia. However, the lack of financial resources forced many clubs in Yerevan and other provinces to retire from professional football. As of 2014, only 6 clubs from Yerevan, 1 from Gyumri and 1 from Kapan are practicing professional football and taking part in the Armenian football league system.

Many new football stadiums were built in Armenia during the 1st decade of the 21st century. However, many of the Soviet-era stadiums are still in bad conditions. Most of the professional clubs either possess their own stadium or football training academy.

As of August 2014, 7 football training academies and camps are operating in the Republic of Armenia:

The Academy of the Football Federation of Armenia in Vanadzor, Lori Province, is currently under construction, it will be home to 1 natural-grass and 2 artificial turf regular-sized pitches.

National teams[edit]

The Armenia national football team is the national football team of Armenia and is controlled by the Football Federation of Armenia. After the split of the Soviet Union, the team played its first international match against Moldova on October 12, 1992.

A women's team, an under-21 team, an under-19 team, and an under-17 team also compete.

League system[edit]

Level

League(s)/Division(s)

1

Armenian Premier League
8 clubs

2

Armenian First League
8 Reserve teams

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Goal supporting Armenia". FIFA.com. 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  2. ^ "Genocide Museum | The Armenian Genocide Museum-institute". Genocide-museum.am. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  3. ^ "Armenia matches, ratings and points exchanged". Eloratings.net. Retrieved 2014-03-07.