UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has visited Armenia, promising UEFA’s continued backing to the country as it strives to develop and strengthen its flourishing football infrastructures on and off the field.
Article top media content
Mr Čeferin was in Armenia to attend celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA). In addition to talks with senior association officials, he also met the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and other government representatives.
The UEFA President joined FFA President Armen Melikbekyan at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the renovated City Stadium in Abovyan, refurbished with the help of funding from UEFA’s HatTrick development programme. He assured the FFA that UEFA would also provide funds to enable Armenia to fulfil plans to construct a new national football stadium in the capital Yerevan.
“The relations between UEFA and the Football Federation of Armenia, and specifically, between Armen Melikbekyan and myself, could not be better,” said Mr Čeferin at the stadium event in Abovyan. “I believe that being a small country, you can develop football and increase its popularity thanks to such facilities.”
“UEFA will continue to support the Football Federation of Armenia. We hope that this support will result in the building of a new national stadium in your country."
“The relations between UEFA and the Football Federation of Armenia could not be better."
Armen Melikbekyan said that the FFA planned to make use of the Abovyan City stadium – an all-seater venue with a maximum capacity of 3,100 seats – and outlined the progress being made to improve other venues across Armenia. “I hope that reconstruction work at Vanadzor City stadium will be finished in July,” he explained. “We are nearly there.”
“The [association] is also planning to install a floodlighting system in Gyumri City stadium, which will give us the opportunity to play football there in the evenings as well. International matches will be played there.”
Setting the development pace
The FFA is working diligently to improve Armenia’s footballing infrastructure, using its resources to improve facilities as it bids to bring more players, men and women, into the game. Armenia is a football country, and the FFA is eager to set the pace and encourage local teams to fulfil their potential at international level.
Armenia launched its new football strategy in 2020, with the aim of increasing participation levels by reinforcing grassroots, amateur and youth football structures. The number of registered players – in football and futsal – continues to increase annually, as the association works hand in hand with local clubs to make widespread improvements.
A significant challenge is finding good places for children to train and play, but with 39 new mini-pitches laid in the 2021/22 season, and various stadiums being refurbished, progress is on the right track.
Football’s prime place in Armenia
At the FFA’s 30th birthday event, Nikol Pashinyan underlined the impact of football in Armenia. "Football is very important for us," the Prime Minister said. "It has economic, sports, socio-psychological and political significance.
"It has a political significance because team spirit is a phenomenon that has a great [potential] to really develop in the Republic of Armenia," he added. "[We] need to develop this way of thinking, and football has an exceptional significance on the way to achieving this goal.
"Modern football is an institutional phenomenon, and I hope that through developments in football, institutional thinking will become commonplace in Armenia. I am confident that we will achieve our goals."
"Football is very important for us."
UEFA a 'reliable partner'
Mr Pashinyan thanked UEFA for its crucial help in taking football forward in Armenia, recognising the European body as "a reliable partner", on account of its invaluable support to football development through, among others, the HatTrick scheme. "I would like to express my appreciation for the support provided by UEFA", he said.
The Prime Minister also congratulated the FFA on 30 years of achievement and progress. "I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to all the people who have contributed to the development of Armenian football, be they athletes, coaches, investors, organisers, officials," he reflected.
"I hope that all of us, using the contribution of these people, will be able to take [football in Armenia] to [new] heights."