- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 February 21, 2003 

Sports Digest

Football (Armenian Premier League)

Armenia's most famous football club has been expelled from the Premier League and barred from all competitions.

Ararat Yerevan was punished by the disciplinary committee of the Armenian Football Federation for refusing to release five players for the national squads for friendly matches against Israel. Armenia played full and Under-21 matches in Tel Aviv last week, the first international games to be staged in Israel for more than a year.

Under AFF regulations, any club which refuses to send more than two players at the same time for U-21 or national team friendly matches should be disqualified from the league. The decision against Ararat reduces the new Premier League to nine clubs.

Ararat was the only Armenian club to win the Soviet championship when it achieved a league and cup double in 1973. It had been tipped to present a strong challenge in this year's Armenian championship to the title-holders Pyunic after recruiting several new foreign players.

The decision to disqualify Ararat must be confirmed at the meeting of the executive committee of AFF, which must take place before the new season starts on March 9.

The AFF has already approved a major change to the league format this year, reducing the number of clubs from 12 to 10 and increasing the number of games to keep the teams more active during the season.

The clubs will first play against each other twice, and then the league will be divided into two groups. The top six teams will again play each other twice while the bottom four will compete against each other to determine the one club that will be relegated to the lower league.

If before there were twelve clubs and each club played 22 matches, under the new system the top six teams will play 28 matches and other four will play 24.

FC Zvartnots, which represented Armenia in the 2002 UEFA Cup, has been expelled from the Premier League for failing to pay its registration fee as a result of financial problems it is facing these days.

FC Armavir, which won promotion to the Premier League only this year, has also been forced to drop out because it is facing similar financial problems. FC Spartak has amalgamated with Banants and the AFF has awarded the vacant place created by this decision to Araks of Ararat.

Tennis (ATP tour)

Armenian tennis player David Nalbandyan of Argentina is participating at the Copa AT&T International Series tournament taking place from February 15 to 23 in the capital of Argentina Buenos Aires.

Playing on the clay surface, Nalbandyan (seeded 2) has already made it to the quarter finals after passing the first two rounds. In first round he beat Fernando Vicente from Spain 6-3, 7-5, then defeated his countryman Franco Squillari 6-1, 6-3 in the second.

If he wins the tournament, Nalbandyan will get $52,000 and 35 race points. He is currently 12th in the ATP rankings with 51 race points with two tournaments played. He earned 50 points for reaching the quarter finals of the Australian Open, but went out in the first round of the International Series tournament in Aukland, New Zealand, gaining one point.

Sargis Sargsyan lost in the first round of the International Series Gold tournament taking place in Memphis, USA from February 17 to 23 on hard surface. He suffered a 3-6, 4-6 defeat from Robby Ginepry, USA.

At present, Sargsyan is in 22nd place with 39 race points (excluding the results of Memphis tournament as it is not finished yet). Sargsyan, the only tennis player representing Armenia in ATP, also participated at the tournament in Wroclaw, Poland, where he reached quarterfinals.

American Armenian Andre Agassi is leading the race with 235 points. After winning the Australian Open he again gained victory at the Siebel Open International Series competition in San Jose, USA that finished on February 16.

He became the first two-time winner on the ATP circuit this season.


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  Photos of the week
  Photo of the week: Talk Time
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Photo of the week: Talk Time
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Hope and Assurance

It has been a season of many emotions, Decision 2003. Doves of peace were offered and officers to enforce that peace were stationed around the Central Elections Commission.



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