Armenian newspapers comment on the scandal over an alleged attempt to bribe Armenia’s national soccer team to lose Saturday’s European championship qualifier with Greece.
“Hayots Ashkhar” is primarily disappointed with Armenia’s performance in the Yerevan match which the Greeks won 1-0. The paper says rumors that the game was “sold out” were circulating in town even before the allegations voiced by the president of Armenia’s Football Federation, Ruben Hayrapetian. It says the Armenian players did little to disprove those rumors.
“Regardless of the efforts made by Ruben Hayrapetian and the lads from our national side, it is clear that the game was sold out beforehand,” claims “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “There are now grounds to assert that the decision to throw the game was made not on the sporting but political level because some individuals very influential in Armenia telephoned the team players before the game to explain that they have to lose to the Greeks. Of course, it can not be said for certain that our boys agreed to such a deal, but it is obvious that they felt orphaned on the pitch.”
“Aravot” says Armenians should be proud of their footballers because they did not allow themselves to be bribed. The paper says the players have taught government officials a lesson of patriotism and moral integrity.
“Iravunk” comments that the start of the Armenian parliament’s autumn session on Monday exposed “a certain honeymoon” in the relationship between leading pro-government and opposition politicians. “The coalition parties lose no opportunity to stress how well they treat the opposition,” writes the paper. Furthermore, it says, those parties now squabble more with each other than with the opposition. “Every government faction is seeking to prop up its own position by means of dirty tricks and at the expense of the other factions, while the authorities as a whole are trying not to spoil relations with the opposition so that during the tough Strasbourg discussions expected later this month Armenia can slip out of sanctions for the last disgraceful presidential and parliamentary elections.”
In an interview with “Golos Armenii,” Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian says Russia’s geopolitical presence in the region depends on Armenia’s strength and influence. He says Russia has nothing to lose from the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border. “Quite the opposite [will happen], because the border’s opening will be beneficial for its strategic partner Armenia,” he says.
The powerful minister also emphasizes his strong support for an open border, disagreeing with those who believe that it would make Armenia highly dependent on Turkey. “Even if there is any danger stemming from that, it is incomparable with the benefits which we would get,” he says. Sarkisian says he has reason to think that the lifting of the Turkish blockade may take place in “a matter of months.” Also, Sarkisian confirms reports that he spent his summer vacation in Monte Carlo but denies losing millions of dollars while gambling in the Monegasque principality’s famous casinos.