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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Rumours: 10 000 Turkish football fans in Yerevan?

Rumours circulating in Yerevan that up to 10 000 Turkish fans intend to come to World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey on 6 September in Yerevan. The hope is that the main Hrazdan stadium reconstruction would be finished by then. Otherwise, it would be a tough task to accommodate local and Turkish fans in much smaller Republican stadium. The other tough task, unrelated to the stadium issue, is to prevent any possible nationalist outburst from both sides, and especially from host’s side of course. All eyes will be on nationalist ARF Dashnaktsutyun party. It’s like a ‘dream coming true’ for them. At last they would have a chance to ‘show-off’ themselves (as a ‘substitute’ for their failed internal standing). Hopefully, more mature and cold-headed fraction in the party would prevail.

The importance of this football match went well beyond sporting significance as it is expected that Turkish president might accept his Armenian counterpart’s invitation and visit Armenia, for the first time ever. “Football diplomacy” between our countries became THE topic of discussion in recent months in what some consider as a possibility of a “breakthrough” in Armenia-Turkey relations.

Related posts:

Armenia-Turkey: a breakthrough? (Serj Sargsyan - 100 days in the office)

Armenia head of state proposes a 'fresh start' to Turkey via football diplomacy

Will football help to ease the tension in Armenia-Turkey relations?

Armenia - Turkey: a little bit of football history was made in Armenian town Abovyan

Armenia vs Turkey: 2010 FIFA World Cup draw

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"All eyes will be on nationalist ARF Dashnaktsutyun party."
Sometime you amaze me.
They wont do a single bodymove.

nazarian said...

You never know. They need to justify their existence.

Observer said...

1) I don't think 10,000 will come - 1-2,000 max. They don't know yet how expensive the air-ticket is!

2) ARF can be very nicely disciplined if they are told to, so no need to worry about them.

Anonymous said...

re: a dream come true for the ARF, I think it is more interesting to comment on die-hard HHSh folks.

I recall in Yerevan many were cheering for Turkey at the last World Cup qualifications, arguing for friendly relations blah blah blah.

It will be interesting to see what side of the stadium these groveling house-slaves will want to cheer from.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Forget even the air ticket price (and for football, fans will pay enough), what about hotels? Where will they all stay during peak tourism season in Yerevan.

Anyway, I'm not expecting so many and I wouldn't believe such rumors until we know for sure. As for Dashnaks, one diplomatic source says he believes as part of government they'll be kept under control.

On the other hand, I don't discount the possibility of some actions, but at the same time, police presence is going to be huge. They'll be everywhere to avoid any chance of what will turn into a huge disaster for both countries.

What will be interesting, however, is as Turkish football fans are known to get out of hand from time to time, will the Turkish authorities attempt to do anything to help the Armenian police?

British police are sometimes sent abroad for our problem fans, but I can't see that happening in this case for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, I don't know what will happen.

I hope it will pass without incident, but this is football and nationalism combined and thus has the potential for trouble. Let's hope not.

me said...

"I don't discount the possibility of some actions, but at the same time, police presence is going to be huge."

Well, given the professionalism and the vast legal expertise of our police officers, that makes me feel so much better.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Actually, police presence at opposition rallies post-1 March has been fine (with one or two undisciplined examples). They may lack professionalism and be getting up to dodgy things in other areas, but at demos they're fine now and it's not uncommon to see them chatting with protesters. Moreover, they are polite, believe it or not.

They even don't wear riot gear now, which they shouldn't, although I don't doubt there's a riot squad or two tucked away just in case (which is also how it would be done in other countries).

As someone who has photographed demos since 1999 and always had to complain about their behavior, in the past few months I can only single out two examples of individuals not working properly.

(one telling me to f*** off when I photographed him and a whole load of others blocking off Liberty Square, and one pushing his riot shield into my camera as it was to my eye and breaking my lens hood.

Besides, the new president and government really does not need running battles on the streets of Yerevan and I would applaud both sides for making sure they don't happen. The police behave well, and opposition leaders control their people.

Anyway, that's going off the point of Mika's post, but just to say that I hope the Turkish and Armenian authorities can work together on this. If not with Turkish police officers on the ground to work with Armenian police, but certainly to prevent known hooligans or nationalists from coming to disrupt matters.

There really needs to be inter-governmental communication on matters relating to security for this match, and I hope it happens as that too would mark another precedent which could contribute to developing relations between the two countries.

Now, hopefully we can stay on-topic on this post and not least because domestic politics shouldn't enter into trying to get this match to pass as smoothly as possible. Ironically, however, I suspect it will -- and from fanatics on both sides.

me said...

1)What does commenting on the lack of professionalism of our police officers (a known and undisputable fact admitted by both sides) have anything to do with internal politics? It’s funny to see people be the first to mention the opposition and then whip themselves into hysteria over its over-exposure.
2) Artmika is the one that brought up ARF-D in the original post, so internal politics are absolutely relevant to begin with. I’d imagine if in a nationalist frenzy, the party decided to burn a Turkish flag or three to prove just how patriotic they are and just how much they love Armenia, it could be a bit of an emergency, one that I’m afraid our police forces aren’t equipped to handle.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, ARF-D is an obvious issue here, but let's face it, the new president wants this match and will issue orders to make nothing is done to see it turn into chaos or a scandal.

This is the point.

As for the numbers, I heard tonight from a diplomatic source that 7,000 away tickets have been issued (ie to Turkey).. This might be why the rumors, but there is now word on how many have been bought.

artmika said...

Armenian government waves visa requirement for Turkish football fans: 20-25 000 are expected

artmika said...

Turkey bars its football fans from attending Armenia-Turkey World Cup qualifying match, apparently for security reasons. (as per my comments here and here)