Football (Armenian Premier League)
Armenia's most famous football club has been
expelled from the Premier League and barred from
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 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
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
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
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.