Everything related to this much - in the build up to this game - was more about politics than actual football. Perhaps, this was the most politically colored football match ever. The funny thing is that as soon as the game started, politics became something very secondary to me, I did not even feel the presence of Turkish and Armenian presidents side by side watching the match. It was all about sport for me, again, at last.
I think Turkey’s win was deserved. Well, they were not in their best form, for sure, to say the least, but technically were superior without any doubts. The main problem for our national team was in their weak physical preparedness for the game, they were out of shape, or whatever (no news, eh?), and yes, they just cannot run!!!
Anyway, even though we all knew that chances to win were slim for Armenia, we were expecting better football from our team. They failed to deliver expectations of thousands of fans who started leaving the stadium 10 mins before the game ended, when it was already 0:2. Everyone in the crowd started remembering our youth team with their recent win over Turkey, and with the hopes that perhaps in time we will witness a very different type of football, a quality one, from our national team.
The good thing is that despite worries of possible nationalist outburst or ugly scenes, nothing of that sort happened. Security was pretty tight, at least in terms of numbers one could spot. Even plastic bottles were not allowed inside the stadium. Things went well, overall, except perhaps booing when the national anthem of Turkey played on. But it was kind of expected, regrettable though, and I saw quite a few people around who were against it and trying to calm people down, urging them to behave in a civilised manner. And towards the end, many Armenians were cheering winners, Turkish team, as it should be.
40 mins before the match
There was pretty small but vocal and active group of Turkish fans there. They were at the centre of curious attention of Armenian fans.
Back to the football diplomacy. The day passed. At least on surface things seem went well. Follow-up practical actions, if any, will determine whether football diplomacy worked. I sincerely hope so.
*for video - see Armenia - Turkey football match: national anthems, mutual booing.
Recommended reading (with quality photos):
Armenia: Football Diplomacy & Relations with Turkey
FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Turkey 2 — Armenia 0