Armenian second-half Football Diplomacy

Armenian second-half Football Diplomacy

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 13

By Alan Hope – Trend:

Small step for Qarabağ, giant leap for Azerbaijan

On Sept. 12, 2017, an Azerbaijani football club, from the presently Armenian occupied city of Agdam (aka “Caucasian Hiroshima”), called Qarabağ (Karabakh), played its first match in the UEFA Champions League group stage with the mighty Chelsea FC.

The first step onto the major European arena wasn’t that pleasant of an experience for Qarabağ, as it suffered a loss. Nonetheless, the team had gained an invaluable experience in dealing with its own anxiety on the background of astonishing atmosphere of the top English League stadium. Thus, the underdog didn’t prevail, as David lost to Goliath at the Stamford Bridge.

Obviously, the expectations of Azerbaijani fans weren’t that high, as two teams are professionally incomparable. Abramovich’s £552.96M market valued Chelsea is in the 13th place of the UEFA club rankings and in the 3rd place of the current English Premier League season. Six-time English champion had won the 2012 UEFA Champions League, 2013 UEFA Europa League, 1971 and 1998 Cup Winners Cup and 1999 UEFA Super Cup. Moreover, the team is a seven-time FA Cup, five-time English League Cup and four-time English Super Cup winner.

In comparison, five-time Azerbaijani Premier League champion and six-time Azerbaijan Cup winner Qarabağ is ranked 91st in the UEFA club rankings. The team’s total market value is estimated at £15.55M. While Chelsea can afford topnotch footballers, Qarabağ mostly relies on the coach Gurbanov’s well-devised game plan, designed for the maximal use of players’ skills. At the same time, the players, who seemed emotionally overwhelmed in the latest game, usually show a well-composed team play.

Nevertheless, current achievements in the UEFA tournament will substantially increase Qarabağ’s financial basin, which, in turn, will help the team in improvement of its performance.

Notwithstanding the current loss, the team’s fans, still supportive and hopeful, are confident that the team will be more presentable in its future games with FC Roma and Atlético. Furthermore, in view of the current success noted in the Azerbaijani football, Qarabağ, making its “first baby steps” in the supreme European tournament, should remember that, practice makes perfect!

Oh Ararat, Where Art Thou?

In perspective of the Azerbaijani success story, as the country puts ever-growing efforts into the development of its sport industry, something peculiarly interesting is happening in Armenia. It seems that the Armenian football, traditionally known for its skilled players and great accomplishments, such as the 1973 win of the Soviet Premier League, as well as the Soviet Cup victories of 1973 and 1975, had ceased to exist.

In the past few years, the Armenian Premier League has started to look more like a “walking corpse.” The League had shrunk to the size of the smallest in Europe, as it comprised only six teams. Its previous flagship team, Ararat, victorious in the Soviet times, is in the last place in standings. The Armenian national team is in the next-to-last place in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers group stage, producing only two victories in eight games. The only good thing that the Armenian Football Federation had come up with in the past few years is the Manchester United’s topnotch player Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who, in reality, is a product of the French ASOA Valence.

On the background of the abovementioned, it appears that the Armenian government, disenchanted with its Football Diplomacy when it tried to conduct bilateral diplomatic negotiations with Turkey effectively exchanging presidential visits to the national teams’ qualifier games back in 2008-2009, has decided to transform the idea of diplomacy into a money laundering operation sprinkled with some self-righteous propaganda. As such, a series of football and futsal clubs, branded Ararat, were created in Russia, France, Germany, Estonia, Cyprus and Iran.

The biggest of the mentioned projects is the FC Ararat Moscow, which is currently enrolled in the Professional Football League (the third tier league in Russia). The team, supposedly created by the Armenian Youth Association of Moscow and owned by the prominent journalist turned businessman Ashot Gabrelianov (of Life News agency), is market valued at £3.02M. In the short time of existence the club had acquired several skilled players, including former Russian national team members, such as Pavlyuchenko, Izmailov and Rebko, and attained the first place of the PFL’s Central Zone division, with goals of promotion to the Russian First and then Premier Leagues. Nonetheless, Ararat’s founders, rallied upon “good intentions,” have caused a few recent shenanigans.

On Aug. 31, 2017, the team announced that due to £260K embezzlement of its funds by the club's president Valeri Oganesian, Ararat will be disbanded. While the law enforcement was investigating the matter, the club’s owner Gabrelianov announced that the financial dispute with Oganesian was settled, and the club is being sponsored by the Armenian businessmen Karapetian and Avagumian. Later on, at a press conference, the team’s coach Grigorian had basically claimed that it was a sort of a PR move, related to the lack of media attention to his personality, asking the press rather in rhetoric, “Don’t you agree that it isn’t boring with us, the Armenians?”

Well, it is certainly not boring, but maybe, instead of diverting the Armenian money into foreign markets and conducting PR campaigns for self-promotion it would be better and, more than that, appropriate to invest into Armenia’s own sport industry and one day, just like the case with Qarabağ, to become a witness to a game of Armenia’s Ararat in the UEFA Champions League?!

Weekly review of main events of Azerbaijani financial market
Weekly review of main events of Azerbaijani financial market
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling
Capital of Bank Keshavarzi Iran to increase
Capital of Bank Keshavarzi Iran to increase
Loading Bars
Latest
Four dead in light plane crash near Paris
Israel reports 130 new COVID-19 cases, 837,012 in total
Canada's Trudeau mobilizes federal workers to battle COVID-19 in Toronto and rest of Ontario
Rockets strike Iraqi military base hosting U.S. contractors, Iraqi military says
Number of COVID-19 cases across globe up by over 809,000 in past day
Iran intends to increase electricity exports
Africa's COVID-19 cases surpass 4.42 mln: Africa CDC
20 employees of Czech embassy in Moscow declared personae non grata
Uzbekistan may start producing coronavirus vaccines by year end
Iran, Serbia emphasize developing trade-industrial ties
Turkey's 1Q2021 export of ready-made clothes to Iran grows
Kutaisi Int’l Airport receives first Wizz Air flight from Vilnius since start of pandemic
Mexican president to propose extension of welfare programs to curb migration
Verstappen wins F1 thriller at Imola
97 passengers wounded in Egypt's train derailment: ministry
Czech ambassador summoned to Russian foreign ministry
UK records another 1,882 coronavirus cases, 10 deaths
Weekly review of main events of Azerbaijani financial market
Cuba's Raul Castro leaves the political stage
Azerbaijan increases silver production
Turkey develops innovative COVID-19 vaccine, minister volunteers
Uzbekistan to receive Sputnik V vaccine by late April
Immunization to be temporarily suspended over Easter holidays
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 19
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling
At least 16 killed in clashes in South Sudan's Lakes State
Volume of cargo loaded, unloaded in Iran’s Astara port surges
Sudan calls on African countries to support reaching comprehensive solutions on Nile dam
Japan’s PM to Visit India, Philippines to Strengthen Regional Ties
Azerbaijan discloses number of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,144 more COVID-19 cases, 1,923 recoveries
India stresses fulfilling commitments for developing Chabahar
EAM Jaishankar to visit Abu Dhabi on Sunday
Sri Lanka to receive Chinese Sinopharm vaccine tomorrow
Biden names 2 Indian-Americans to key jobs
Ambedkar remembered on birth anniversary in Dubai
Shortcomings of multilateral system laid bare by pandemic, says Shringla
Maldives Foreign Minister meets Jaishankar, discusses regional, international issues
Israeli business interested in expanding cooperation with Kazakhstan
Number of licenses issued for launch of enterprises in Iran spikes
Delegation of Azerbaijani parliament takes part in events within session of CIS Interparliamentary Assembly (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani gymnasts take part in World Cup in Uzbekistan's Tashkent
Ford Otosan to suspend production due to supply issues
Georgian delegation to Participate in Spring Session of PACE
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 18
Azerbaijani hydroelectric power plants increase electricity production
China, U.S. agree on need for stronger climate commitments
Russia records over 8,600 daily COVID-19 cases
Azerbaijan shares footage from Saybali village of Aghdam district (VİDEO)
Serbia - gateway to European market for Iran - Deputy Minister
France to impose 10-day quarantine for travellers coming from Brazil
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry to engage archiving services via tender
Kyrgyzstan adds 244 new COVID-19 cases
Israel raises import of clothes from Turkey
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 18
Capital of Bank Keshavarzi Iran to increase
Iran's trade turnover with Georgia decreases
Azerbaijan's MFA issues appeal on occasion of April 18 - International Day for Monuments and Historic Sites
Azerbaijan shares footage from Tarovlu village of the Gubadli region (VİDEO)
Slovak investors note potential in Georgia's energy sector
Czechs expel 18 Russian envoys, accuse Moscow over ammunition depot blast
Azerbaijan's State Treasury Agency to update information systems via tender
Earthquake hits Georgia
Iran, Serbia FMs meet in Tehran
Magnitude 5.8 earthquake hits Japan
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 caseload up by 2,822
Iran's trade turnover with Pakistan shrinks
Brazil registers over 370,000 deaths from COVID-19
5.8-magnitude quake strikes off Japan's Miyagi Prefecture
Iraq reports 6,552 new COVID-19 cases, 970,987 in total
More than 805,000 COVID-19 infections detected worldwide over past 24 hours
5.1-magnitude quake hits 20 km S of Mandraki, Greece
Israel reports 142 new COVID-19 cases, 836,882 in total
Yemen's Houthi rebels say launch drone attack on Saudi air base
India's sports minister tests positive for COVID-19
Weekly review of highlights in Azerbaijan's transport sector
EU to hand over 30 vehicles to Georgia Border Police
Turkish scientist works on drug that can ‘kill COVID-19 in 2 days’
Uzbekistan may start production of its own vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of the year
Russia's Eastwind, Turkmenistan's Turkmensvyaz to sign contract
UK records another 2,206 coronavirus cases, 35 deaths
Iranian official offers upbeat assessment of progress in nuclear talks
Volume of goods transported by Azerbaijan’s vehicles in 2021 disclosed
Indonesia reports 5,041 new COVID-19 cases, 132 new deaths
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 3 mln - Johns Hopkins University
Geostat reveals volume of Russian exports to Georgia
Solar panel station put into operation in Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Province
New auction to be held for Azerbaijani Finance Ministry's mid-term bonds
Georgia increases import of vehicles from Turkey
Kyrgyzstan imposes restrictive measures at airports
Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds in Iran
Foreigners to pass simplified visa procedures for 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Serbian FM to visit Tehran today
Azerbaijan discloses number of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,148 more COVID-19 cases, 2,287 recoveries
Armenia falsified Caucasian Albania temples in Azerbaijan - rep of religious community
Iran to send trade attaché to Azerbaijan
Weekly review of major events in Azerbaijan's oil & gas sector
Azerbaijan shares footage from Jabrayil's Dash Veysalli village (VIDEO)
Armenia strived to create history for itself in Azerbaijan's lands - Head of Albanian-Udi community
All news