The collapse of the USSR and Armenia's declaration of independence in 1991 were significant moments in the country's sporting life as well as in its political history. From a footballing perspective those events prompted the founding, on 17 January 1992, of the Football Federation of Armenia (Hayastani Futboli Federacia or FFA). The FFA duly became a member of the game's world and European governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, in the same year.
During the Soviet era, Armenian teams had played in the USSR football system, enjoying their most successful period in the 1970s. In 1973 the country's leading team FC Ararat achieved a golden double by winning both the USSR championship – topping the Soviet top flight ahead of FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Dinamo Moskva – and the Soviet Cup, beating Dynamo Kyiv in the final. Ararat lifted the cup for a second time in 1975, having also finished as league championship runners-up in 1971 and 1976. Wider repute came the way of the capital club when they reached the European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finals in 1974/75, losing 2-1 on aggregate to FC Bayern München.
Given those achievements, it is no surprise that Armenia's footballers also won international caps with the USSR. The most famous of these talented players were Eduard Margarov and Khoren Hovhannisyan who took part in the FIFA World Cup final tournaments of 1966 and 1982 respectively. Hovhannes Zanazanyan and Arkadi Andriasyan, meanwhile, claimed football bronze medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, a feat matched by Hovhannisyan at the Moscow Games eight years later.
Since 1992 the country's elite footballers have competed in the Armenian Premier League or Hayastani Bardzraguyn khumb. This eight-team division runs from the spring to the autumn, with each side playing the other seven twice at home and twice away. The FFA is also involved in organising the Armenian Independence Cup, which was first contested in 1992, the Super Cup, a national futsal championship and various youth tournaments.
The European club competitions are another challenging frontier for Armenian football, whose representatives routinely begin each campaign in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. In recent seasons FC Pyunik, in the UEFA Champions League, and FC Banants, in the UEFA Cup, have won qualifying ties before falling at the next hurdle of the preliminaries.
The national team made their competitive debut in qualification for the 1996 UEFA European Championship. Armenia kicked off with a 2-0 defeat in Belgium on 7 September 1994 yet also made history in that EURO '96 campaign. The team recorded their first competitive victory when they won 2-1 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 6 September 1995. Since then Armenia have been a permanent fixture in EURO and World Cup qualifying tournaments, earning the notable achievement of finishing third in their UEFA EURO 2012 group, during which talismanic FC Shakhtar Donetsk forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan emerged as a player of top international calibre.
On an infrastructure level, work began in 2007 on a national-team training centre and academy with residential facilities. The centre was opened on 1 September 2010 providing not only a training camp for Armenia's national sides but also for a youth academy.
In 2014, a football academy was founded in Gyumri, which provided an opportunity to develop football in the north of Armenia. This was followed two years later by the opening of another academy in Vanadzor. The Yerevan Republican Stadium has also been partly redeveloped, with one particular benefit of this initiative being its impressive new playing surface. While Armenia has always considered itself a football country, the aim of the FFA is to earn greater international recognition for the local game on both club and national-team fronts. For this reason it is constantly striving for higher standards.
Date of birth: 9 March 1963
Association president since: 2002
• A graduate of the Armenian State University of Economics, Ruben Hayrapetyan founded top Yerevan side FC Pyunik in 1995 and, after taking up a number of prominent positions in local companies, took over as a head of the capital's Avan district in 1996. He was elected as a Republic of Armenia parliament deputy in 2003 and 2007.
• First elected as president of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) in 2002, Hayrapetyan oversaw a significant growth the popularity of football and the number of young players; prioritising youth development, his administration pulled off a major coup as Armenia qualified for the 2005 UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals. Hayrapetyan was re-elected as FFA president in 2006, 2010 and 2015.
• Hayrapetyan said: "To hope for a better future, we have to put some effort in now, and the work is already underway. This is the only way to ensure the development of football in our country. We already feel we are on the right track. We need to keep that momentum."
Date of birth: 27 March 1970
Association general secretary since: 2003
• Armen Minasyan graduated from the Yerevan Institute of Economics before continuing his education in France, where he graduated from the Paris University of Political Economics, and gained a masters degree in European Sports Management.
• He came to FC Pyunik in 1992 as chief accountant, and then served as vice-president and general secretary. His competences earned him respect in Armenian football, and in 2003 he was elected Football Federation of Armenia (HFF) general secretary.
• Minasyan is a member of UEFA's Youth and Amateur Football Committee. He also became the first Armenian administrator to be appointed as UEFA delegate for a UEFA Champions League final – the 2008 encounter between Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC.