Football standoff - beyond the playing field
The situation around the Armenian national football team has never been so tense, despite the fact that there were bad lucks and failures before as well. However, the Federation has never tried to cast the blame on the players, and they, in turn, have never ‘dared’ oppose the Federation President. So, what is going on with our team and around it?
The fact that the Armenian national team would sustain a defeat in the qualifying round of the UEFA EURO 2016, was clear as early as in 2014, during the start games. Armenian fans did not see a rapid, attacking, and most importantly, dedicated game.
Bernard Challandes, a new senior coach of the Armenian national team, somehow tried to find some new tactical solutions. However, the defeats followed one after another. Football Federation President,Ruben Hayrapetyan announced then, in 2014, that cooperation with Challandes would continue.
A few months later, after losing the game against Albania, the Swiss resigned. He was replaced by Sargis Hovsepyan, who also failed to help the Armenian team. As a result, the Armenian national team recorded 8 losses and 2 draws.
Of course, such a result and the fact, that the Armenian team once again failed in the qualifying round of the European championship, could not satisfy fans. During the friendly game against France, after a long break, the fans booed their players again. In Yerevan, during the match against Denmark, the ‘First Armenian Front’ (FAF) movement called on the players to ‘recollect themselves’, ‘sober up’, having put up the posters showing all defeats of the team. A few days later, during the game against Albanians, the fans ‘demanded the coach.’
1. To invite to the team a foreign, high-profile and charismatic senior coach;
2. To exclude the cases of dismissal of players for the reasons not related to the football requirements;
3. To reduce ticket prices.
The requirements remained unanswered and the FAF organized a protest rally, a march to the FFA headquarters building. The closed doors and the police awaited them there. As a result, one more demand was added: resignation of the Federation President Hayrapetyan and the executive committee.
FFA ignored the FAF’s second protest again and fans announced, they would continue the struggle until they get what they want.
After two months of silence, the Federation finally reacted to the developments. At the meeting with journalists, Ruben Hayrapetyan decided to comment on the situation and give answers to the questions that concerned the football lovers most.
However, there were more discoveries and revelations than expected. It turned out, he suspected of ‘treachery’ some members of the team. The matter concerned Armenia-Albania ill-fated game, where Armenian footballers ignominiously completed EURO 2016 on their own field.
‘We need to eradicate treachery. A game with Albania has been a failure and misfortune for us. We need to bring the culprits into the open, otherwise we will not achieve anything,’ – he said angrily.
Hayrapetyan explained that the poor game was also due to the players’ arrogance, their unwillingness to play and strive for greater achievements.
The national team players did not leave Hayrapetyan’s statement unanswered. 9 players presented their own version of what had happened. They denied all charges related to the game against Albania, saying they trusted each other and that a search for traitors in the team would not yield any result.
‘For those years, that we have been playing in the national team, we have always been devoted to the team and have done everything for its benefits. There has always been a friendly atmosphere and unanimity in our team. We are like one family, the relationships between the players is still warm and friendly,’ – assured the players.
After Ruben Ayrapetyayana revelations, «Red Eagles» was the only fan movement that announced that ‘nobody has been made liable for the football shame. They announced, they demanded to meet with the FFA President.
The meeting with Hayrapetyan was held soon. It was during that meeting, that the Federation President answered to the fans’ demands as well:
1. FFA for the third time addressed Michel Ter-Zakarian, FC Nantes coach, requesting him to head the national team
2. FFA will continue negotiations with David Yurchenko, who is playing abroad, since our team has serious problems with the gate defence
3. The issue of reducing the ticket prices is being discussed; this problem will be settled before the next round.
4. Hayrapetyan will resign only if the team fails in the qualifying round of 2018 Football World Cup.
An early showdown will only benefit the national team and will help concentrate on the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Photo: FFA, Gevorg Ghazaryan, Armine Martirosyan