After holding lengthy talks with Arsenal, team midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan said he would not be traveling to Azerbaijan for next week’s final due to concerns related to the tension that currently exists between Azerbaijan and Armenia, reads an article published by the Associated Press, Trend reports.
UEFA stated that it had received assurances about Mkhitaryan’s safety in Azerbaijan “from the highest authorities in the country” and that a “comprehensive security plan” was provided to Arsenal, the article reads.
According to the article, the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan called it an “unwarranted decision” by Mkhitaryan and Arsenal, saying there was “no reason whatsoever to put under question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan.”
The article also cites the words of Minister of Sports of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov.
“We at all times have separated sports from politics, this surely applies to the case of Mkhitaryan,” the minister said.
After Mkhitaryan said that he would not be coming to Baku, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated that it had assured his safety, and accused Armenia of manipulating the situation, the article continues.
“The Armenian Foreign Ministry statement that player of Armenian heritage at the Arsenal football club will not come to Baku is evidence of an attempt to turn sport into a political instrument because of internal political problems in Armenia,” the article cites the words of ministry spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva.
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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