Soccer: Armenia league to forego foreign goalkeepers; switch to autumn-spring schedule

Soccer: Armenia league to forego foreign goalkeepers; switch to autumn-spring schedule

Soccer authorities in Armenia have decided to allow no foreign goalkeepers in the domestic league beginning next season.

At present, some Armenian Premier League sides, including reigning champions Ulisses, do use the services of foreigners also when it comes to the goalkeeper position.

The November 14 decision by the executive committee of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) appears to reflect concerns of the lack of local goalkeeper talent.

Shortage of high-class players between the sticks is likely to become a headache for Armenia’s otherwise progressing national team when it engages in the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying round next autumn.

Roman Berezovsky, who will turn 38 next year, may continue to render services to his national side for another cycle, but even if he doesn’t give up his career soon, Berezovsky will have to miss the next official match of Armenia. Last month European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, refused to cancel Berezovsky’s red card issued by a Spanish official for a controversial handball-outside-the-penalty-area offense in the Euro-2012 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on October 7.

FFA President Ruben Hayrapetyan had sought the cancellation of the ban after replays showed the Irish player handling the ball before the Armenian goalkeeper stopped it with his shoulder. Even the Irish player, Simon Cox, admitted his fault in a later media interview, but the result of the match (that took the Irish to the playoffs) and the “Misses Next Match” verdict on the Armenian goalkeeper stood.

The next official match of the Armenian team will coincide with the opener of the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign in which Armenia’s competitors are such well-established European sides as Italy, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria as well as Malta.

The FFA’s executive committee also decided that beginning in 2013 Armenia’s domestic championship will be held according to the autumn-spring system, a normal practice for most European leagues. This modification is also likely to help the national team and Armenian clubs participating in international competitions to approach crucial matches in better form.