British media warn fans of provocations and attacks, and Russian – persuade.
The Europa League is the second largest European tournament after the Champions League. For the first time in history , only English clubs entered the finals of both tournaments : Arsenal – Chelsea and Tottenham – Liverpool.
The main match of the Champions League will be held on June 1 in the capital of Spain – Madrid. And the final of the Europa League is hosted by the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku. Because of this, the English media and the clubs themselves are worried about security, as the country is in open military conflict with Armenia. Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan suffered more than others.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry vouched for Mkhitaryan’s security, but Arsenal did not take risks
Back in April, when Arsenal fought for a ticket to the Europa League final, the media found out that UEFA was ready to help Mkhitaryan in obtaining an Azerbaijani visa. In 2018, the Armenian football player missed the match against Karabakh, and in 2015, when playing for Borussia Dortmund, he missed a meeting with Gabala – all for security reasons. In the case of the final, they promised to fix it.
On May 11, when Arsenal designed the finals, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry supported the idea of Mkhitaryan’s participation in the match in Baku. A spokesman for the ministry assured that “sport is out of politics,” and the event will be held without incident. The sports minister said that the Azerbaijani capital was “fully prepared” to accept the match, and added to UEFA that they would provide “all the necessary security measures.” Despite this, the British media continued to write that the Arsenal midfielder would remain in London.The reason is the club’s fear that Mkhitaryan will be attacked because of rumors that he recently visited a disputed territory – the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
On May 21, Arsenal stated that Mkhitaryan was not going to the final: the club called it a collective decision and expressed disappointment in this regard. According to the player himself, it is “very painful” to miss such important games. This is a general decision, not a legal ban by Azerbaijan or Armenia.
Such matches are not often in a career, and I must admit that the pass was very painful for me. I will root for my teammates from home. Bring me the cup!Henrikh MkhitaryanArsenal footballer
Mkhitaryan – one of the leaders of Arsenal in the Europa League: he played six games and gave three assists, and also played in both semifinal games with Valencia. In addition, the Armenian is a football player with a lot of experience, since in 2017 he scored in the Europa League final in Manchester United, won the title and became the best player in the opinion of fans.
UEFA criticized by football players and journalists for deciding to hold the final in Baku
The English media, as in the case of the 2018 World Cup, began to produce materials criticizing the organization of the Europa League final and with warnings for fans. They also picked up the story of an Englishman with Armenian roots, who was denied an Azerbaijani visa.
- “Fans received warnings that terrorist attacks are possible. In hotels, overpriced prices “- Daily Mail ;
- “The bold decision of UEFA to give up the final of the Europa League of Baku became a betrayal for the fans” – The Telegraph ;
- “The airport, which can not take more than 15 thousand people, and a terrible reputation in the field of human rights – this is the last step against football fans” – The Independent ;
- “The tickets are very expensive, the place of arrival is far from the stadium and, it turns out, many fans will not be able to get to the finals, even if they have time and money, just like Mkhitaryan” – The Guardian .
Clubs also remained dissatisfied:Arsenal accused UEFA of interfering with fans because of the small stadium, where only six thousand Londoners will get (45 thousand have subscriptions) and the airport is not large enoughlocated at a great distance from the stadium. UEFA partially recognized the problems and explained that it was trying to do everything possible so that the fans could see the final at the stadium. To solve this problem and in order to save, for example, Russian fans began to make tourist guides around Baku.
The most vividly expressed was Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, who doubted the correctness of the UEFA choice due to problems with logistics, distance and prices for hotels in Baku. The Russian journalist Vasily Utkin agreed with him .
I have no idea how to get there [in Baku]. There is no clarity at all. Decisions should be much more reasonable and logical. This is irresponsible.
Perhaps you need to negotiate some price cuts, somehow limit prices. I heard that the number, which usually costs £ 100, is now rented for £ 2,700. This is madness.Jürgen KloppLiverpool coach
Football players came out in support of Azerbaijan. Midfielder Michael Essien, who played for Chelsea, and now representing Sabail, said that “everything is fine” in the country. Former Portugal midfielder Deco, collaborating with UEFA, called the country “calm and safe” and called for a change in her opinion.
Conflict of Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh
Azerbaijan and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations and are in a state of prolonged conflict.. This has been going on since 1994, when the war between the countries over the disputed territories of Nagorno-Karabakh ended. There are national prejudices on the part of citizens of both countries: Azerbaijan and Armenia were together within the USSR, but no political actions were taken to resolve the contradictions.
Disputes between the two countries continue to this day. In January 2019, a rally washeld in Baku with anti-Armenian and anti-Russian slogans, and in February , an action was held in Yerevan with a call not to give state territories to its neighbors.