On the field, a recent qualifying match between the Armenian and Russian national teams ended in a scoreless draw. Outside the stadium, the football contest kicked up an emotional debate among Armenians about the two countries’ strategic partnership.
Thanks largely to the Russian team’s failure to crack Armenia’s defense, neither team managed to score in the March 26 game, played in Yerevan; Armenia now holds second place in the same qualifying group as Russia, 10 points behind its strategic partner in the standings. The two teams will play again on June 4 in Moscow. Poland and Ukraine will co-host the Euro Cup final round in June-July 2012.
While huge billboards in Yerevan promoted the soccer match as a “game of friendship,” there were limits to the bonhomie. In a bid to contain disturbances by rowdy Russian soccer fans and ticket scalping, the Armenian Football Federation limited sales of three-plus tickets to Armenian passport holders.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.