Friday, July 17, 2015

30 players and 25 teams: Armenians in Russian football championships and beyond

Ishkhan Geloyan scored the first "Armenian" goal in
the Russian leagues in the newly restarted season.
(photo via
With Armenia’s football championship clubs as bad as they have ever been, and the beloved national team left at the mercy of Ruben Hairapetian and Sargis Hovsepyan, Armenian football fans can find some solace in the fact that there is still plenty of Armenian football action to watch elsewhere.

The Russian football championship that is resuming this month is home to 18 (!) players of note. In the Russian Premiere League these forwards (FW), midfielders (MF), defenders (DF) and one sole goalkeeper (GK) are:

FW Yura Movsisyan, MF Aras Ozbilis – Spartak Moscow
FW Edgar Manucharyan – Ural Yekaterinburg
MF Karlen Mkrtchyan – Anji Makhachkala
DF Robert Arzumanyan – Amkar Perm
MF Nikolay Safronidi, DF Denis Tumasyan, GK David Yurchenko – Ufa
MF Khoren Bayramyan - Rostov

And in the Football National League (2nd tier tournament) they include:

FW Artur Sarkisov, MF Artur Minosyan – Volga Nizhny Novgorod
FW Ruslan Koryan – Luch-Energia Vladivostok
FW Ishkhan Geloyan – Baltika Kaliningrad
FW Artur Maloyan – Shinnik Yaroslavl
FW Aleksandr Alkhazov* – Volgar Astrakhan
MF Armen Ambartsumyan, DF Artak Aleksanyan, DF Ivan Mamakhanov – Torpedo Armavir
DF Sergey Avagimyan – Baykal Irkutsk

18 players in 13 teams is probably the highest "Armenian" representation in the Russian leagues for some time.

There are of course Armenian players playing elsewhere in Europe: most prominently MF Henrikh Mkhritaryan for Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga, DF Gael Andonian for Olympique de Marseille in Ligue 1, MF Artem Simonyan in FC Zurich in the Swiss Super League, MF Edgar Babayan at Denmark's Randers and MF Norair Mamedov-Aslanyan at Almere City and MF Arshak Koryan at Vitesse Arnhem in the Dutch Eerste and Eredivizie, respectively.

Additionally, MF Gevorg Ghazaryan may return to the Ukrainian Premier League, if he is selected by Metallist Kharkov (Update: Ghazaryan signed on with Maritimo of Madeira, Portugal instead). FW Gegam Kadimyan plays for Olimpik Donetsk (currently evacuated to Kiev). Elsewhere, Artur Yedigaryan is at Dinamo Minsk, Belarus, Marcos Pizelli at Aktobe, Kazakhstan and Hrayr Mkoyan at Esteghlal, Tehran, Iran.

Names of players of Armenian descent who have never played for Armenia’s national teams are italicized.

*Alkhazov is actually of Assyrian descent, originally from the village of Urmia in Russia’s North Caucasus; but considering that community’s close ties to Armenians and his scoring prowess, Alkhazov deserves an honorable mention.

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