🇦🇲 Armenia 🇦🇲
The Armenian championship was established in 1992 after the Soviet era. The most successful club is Pyunik Yerevan. Long known as summer, because it was held from spring to autumn, the competition is now winter since 2012.
The Armenian championship has 10 teams that compete twice for a total of 18 matches each before splitting into two sub-groups with the top six and bottom four teams respectively to determine the final standings.
The early 1990s were memorable for Armenian football, following the collapse of the USSR and the country’s independence in 1991. From a purely footballing point of view, these events marked the creation of the Football Federation of Armenia (HFF) on 17 January 1992, which was to become a member of the world body, FIFA, the same year, and then of UEFA the following year.
During the Soviet era, Armenian teams played within the framework of the USSR Federation. They had their heyday in the 1970s. In 1973, the country’s best team, FC Ararat Yerevan, won the USSR championship – ahead of FC Dynamo Kiev and FC Dinamo Moscow – and the Union Cup at the expense of Dynamo Kiev. The team lifted the cup a second time in 1975 and finished runners-up in 1971 and 1976. But it was in the 1974/1975 edition of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup that the whole of Europe was to discover this club, which was an unfortunate quarter-finalist against FC Bayern Munich (2-1 in both matches).
In view of these results, what could be more normal than to see Armenian players called up to play for the Soviet Union. The best of them were Eduard Margarov and Khoren Hovhannisyan, selected respectively for the 1966 and 1982 FIFA World Cups, or Hovhannes Zanazanyan and Arkadi Andriasyan, who won a bronze medal with the USSR at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. A feat matched by Hovhannisyan eight years later at the Moscow Games.
Since 1992, the best players in the country have been competing in the Armenian championship in the first division. The eight-team league runs from spring to autumn, with each team playing the other seven twice, home and away.
European competitions also provide a platform for Armenian football. Its representatives regularly appear in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Recently, FC Pyunik in the UEFA Champions League and FC Banants in the UEFA Cup won their first preliminary rounds before stumbling.
The national team made its debut in international competition in the UEFA EURO 1996 qualifiers. After a poor start against Belgium (2-0 defeat), the team scored a historic victory over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2-1) on 6 September 1995. Since then, Armenia has been a consistent performer in the qualifying rounds of various European Championships and the FIFA World Cup, finishing third in their qualifying group for UEFA EURO 2012, during which the magical striker Henrikh Mkhitaryan emerged as a world-class player.
In 2014, a football academy was opened in Gyumri to develop football in the north of the country. Another was opened in Vanadzor two years later. The “Republican Stadium” in Yerevan has also undergone renovation work, particularly on its pitch. Armenia has always considered itself to be a land of football. As such, the HFF is now doing everything possible to ensure that its clubs and national team distinguish themselves on the international scene.
The official website: www.ffa.am