15:02  +04,  May 16, 2019

Arsenal slam UEFA for holding Europa League final in Baku

Arsenal are dissatisfied with the fact that the UEFA Europa League final will be played in Baku. In this regard, the English football club issued an official statement.

The Gunners will face Chelsea in the Europa League final which is slated for May 29, in the Azerbaijani capital city.

“Everyone at Arsenal is delighted to have reached the Uefa Europa League final and we are all very much looking forward to the match against Chelsea on Wednesday, May 29,” the aforementioned statement reads. “However, we are bitterly disappointed by the fact that due to transport limitations Uefa can only make a maximum of 6,000 tickets available to Arsenal for a stadium with a capacity of well over 60,000. Time will tell if it is even possible for 6,000 Arsenal fans to attend the match, given how extreme the travel challenges are.

“We have 45,000 season-ticket holders and for so many fans to miss out due to Uefa selecting a final venue with such limited transport provision is quite simply not right. The reality is that whoever reached the final would not be able to meet demand from their supporters.

“We have received many complaints from our fans about this and we fully share their concerns.

“On behalf of our fans, we would like to understand the criteria by which venues are selected for finals, and also how supporter requirements are taken into account as part of this.

“Moving forward we would urge Uefa to ensure that supporter logistics and requirements are a key part of any future decisions for final venues as what has happened this season is unacceptable, and cannot be repeated. We would be happy to join any future discussions to avoid this situation happening again.”

Armenia national squad captain and Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s participation in the Europa League final is still uncertain.

As reported earlier, however, Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva had assured that Mkhitaryan can play in this match in Baku.

“Many major sports events have been hosted in Azerbaijan, and Armenian athletes have taken part in them,” Abdullayeva had said. “Sports and politics are separate.”

UEFA also had informed that the Armenia international faces no safety concerns in the Europa League final in Azerbaijan. The organization had informed that it had asked for guarantees that Mkhitaryan will have no problems, and that the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan had confirmed that he will have no problems with respect to entry to the country and accommodation in capital city Baku, and that all necessary measures would be taken to ensure his safety.  

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is on the Azerbaijani border guards’ “blacklist” because of visiting Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) numerous times.

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