Soccer authorities in Armenia have announced plans to bid for hosting several matches of Euro 2020, which the game’s European governing body, UEFA, could decide to stage in more than a dozen cities across the continent.
Ruben Hayrapetian, the chief of the Armenian Football Federation (AFF), told a news conference in Yerevan on Friday that a Soviet-era built stadium in Yerevan that has already undergone some reconstruction lately will further be adjusted to international standards to become one of the best soccer arenas in Europe.
The Hrazdan Stadium has a capacity to host nearly 54,000 spectators, but it has rarely been used for international soccer games in recent years for a variety of reasons, including problems with the pitch and the stands.
The stadium saw some improvement last year ahead of Armenia’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Italy that was played at Hrazdan in October.
Hayrapetian said even now he wanted the national team to play all of its games at Hrazdan and not another, much smaller arena where it has had to play most of its matches in recent years.
He said that planned reconstruction at Hrazdan will also be in line with Armenia’s plans to make a bid for hosting some of the European championship finals games in 2020.
“The president has set a task before us to reconstruct the Hrazdan Stadium in the next five years,” said the AFF chief. “We want to turn it into a stadium meeting all international standards and then make a bid for holding championship matches in Armenia.”
During the press conference Hayrapetian also commented on the situation with the national team manager who submitted a resignation earlier this week after Armenia suffered a painful home defeat from the Czech Republic. The 0-3 loss on Tuesday was the third in a row for Vartan Minasian’s side in the current World Cup qualifying campaign.
Hayrapetyan confirmed that he did not accept the resignation. Furthermore, he said he had recommended that the AFF executive committee reaffirm Minasian as Armenia’s head coach.
“It was an emotional decision by Minasian [to submit his resignation],” said the AFF chief. “I have set a task before the coach to restore the prestige of the national team and recover the game that it used to play before.”
Armenia mostly comprised of young players did surprisingly well under Minasian during the previous qualifying campaign, beating several European stalwarts and nearly earning the right to compete for a spot in the continent’s championship finals.
The team, however, has struggled to achieve results in friendly and official games since last year.