Baku, Azerbaijan, May 22
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
The decision of the Armenian Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan not to go to Baku, Azerbaijan to participate in the Europa League final against Chelsea on May 29 was called an "unjustified decision" by the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA), as stated in an article published on the Inside World Football website, Trend reports.
Inside World Football mentions that earlier Mkhitaryan did not participate in UEFA club matches in Azerbaijan as part of Borussia Dortmund in 2015 and as part of Arsenal in the Europa League last October.
“We are disappointed with the statement of Arsenal, which states that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not go with his team to Baku to participate in the UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea next Wednesday,” the article cites the words of an AFFA representative.
“We are very sorry about this unjustified decision, taken, from what we understand, collectively by Arsenal, the player and his family. Although we recognize the right to personally decide not to travel, we would like to reiterate that Azerbaijan, as a host country, provided all the necessary guarantees required by UEFA for ensuring the personal safety of Mkhitaryan. There is no reason to doubt the seriousness of the guarantees provided by Azerbaijan," the representative continued.
Moreover, the article also contains a statement by Arsenal.
"We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki [Henrikh Mkhitaryan] to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party,” the statement read.
“Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the player's safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in the country. As a result of these guarantees, a comprehensive security plan was developed and given to the club,” UEFA responded in its statement, adding that although the club acknowledges the efforts of UEFA and the Azerbaijani government in this matter, UEFA respects the personal decision not to travel with the player.
Meanwhile, as stated in the article, AFFA states that the Association intends to prevent this situation from casting a political shadow over the event.
“Over the past decade, a large number of Armenian athletes took part in various international sports events in Azerbaijan without any problems. Finally, we believe that this regrettable decision will in no way affect the quality and the appeal of this magnificent match. We look forward to welcoming both teams in Baku soon."
UEFA Europa League final match will be held between English teams Arsenal and Chelsea on May 29.
The match will start at 23:00 (GMT+4) at the 68,000-seat Baku Olympic Stadium.
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