By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Talks about boycotting the forthcoming UEFA Europa League Final between Arsenal and Chelsea in Baku add fuel to the fire caused by football fans’ complaints about logistics of travelling from London to Baku, long distance between the two cities.
Everyone must have forgotten that just a few years ago, in 2015, a similar level match - UEFA Super Cup - was held in Tbilisi, a city located not too from Baku with similar, if not weaker, capacity to host such an event as the capital of Azerbaijan.
A prematch atmosphere at that time was quite tranquil, with no tensions, no major pressure on the hosts, for whom hosting such an important final was exactly the same level of challenge like for Baku to receive this year’s Europa League final.
Foreign media reports circulated earlier this month contained founded concerns on the inability of Baku Olympic Stadium to handle big volumes of visitors. Apparently, the authors of those reports seemed unaware of how Spanish supporters of FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC travelled to Georgia via Tbilisi International Airport.
Knowing that capacity of Tbilisi International Airport is much lower than that of Heydar Aliyev International Airport of Baku, this exaggerated focus on logistical difficulties issues is an excessive and biased pressure exerted on Azerbaijan. The question is why. Who and what is behind this nasty anti-Azerbaijan campaign.
It should be noted that England’s Arsenal and Chelsea will face each other at the Baku Olympic Stadium on May 29. The match will start at 23:00 (GMT+4).
Over 30,000 foreign fans will attend the final match. Some 450 buses will be available for the convenient and safe transportation of fans.
Baku Olympic Stadium is a 68,700-seat venue, designed and constructed to meet the international standards for stadiums set by UEFA, FIFA and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). This is the largest stadium in Azerbaijan.
The stadium has already hosted athletics competitions, ceremonies during 1st European Games in 2015, UEFA U-17 European Championship in 2016, 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017, UEFA Champions League group stage matches of Karabakh FC, etc.