Arsenal awaiting ‘acceptable guarantees’ on Mkhitaryan safety in Baku

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Arsenal say that they have yet to receive ‘acceptable guarantees’ over the safety of Henrikh Mkhitaryan in relation to his participation in the Europa League final in Baku on May 29th.

Earlier this season, the Armenian was not selected in the squad for the group stage tie against Qarabag because of the ongoing political situation between his nation and Azerbaijan.

Last month it was reported that UEFA would put pressure on Azerbaijan to issue a visa to the winger, with a representative telling The Times, “It is a standard procedure for UEFA to send letters of support to associations, clubs or embassies in order to obtain visas for players and allow them to play in UEFA competition matches.”

However, entry to the country is one thing, the player’s safety and well-being is another and as it stands it looks as if the former Borussia Dortmund man could miss out.

In a statement this afternoon, Arsenal said:

We are seeking guarantees from UEFA that it will be safe for Henrikh Mikhitaryan to travel to Baku for the Europa League Final, which both Arsenal and Micki require for him to be included within our squad.

Acceptable guarantees have not been received yet, and we hope that UEFA will be able to supply these promptly. We are of course hugely concerned that the location of the final could lead to him not being able to play in a European final.

So, on top of fans having to travel to one of the most distant cities in ‘Europe’, the game’s authorities have sanctioned a final in a country where a participating player could face injury or death because of the political situation there.

Even if the odds of an Armenian making the final in Azerbaijan were considered small enough to take the chance when the decision was being made, it’s absurd that it’s come to this because it now implicitly endorses that outlook.

Let’s wait and see what happens, but chances are security concerns will win out and Arsenal will be without an experienced attacking options for the biggest game of the season.

Mkhitaryan scored in the Europa League final in 2017 when Manchester United beat horrendous bottlers Ajax.

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Alphie

Hate Ajax.

IamaGoober

Don’t worry Mkhi, lad.

You just sit this one out.

David C

I want the same starting lineup as yesterday, but you’re crazy if you don’t think Mkhi is a good option off the bench. Nice assist yesterday, no?

Hantal

It was a nice assist but too often he runs into trouble or blasts shots over when a pass would be better

DB10s Air Miles

I can’t believe how many people voted this down.

Moley mole the mole who lives in a hole

Well I, for one, am shocked. Very unlike UEFA to mess something up. I mean, you can see why they thought Baku would be a good place to stage the game. The people out there must rarely get the chance to see such grand occasions live, so what UEFA have done here is nigh on charitable. I hear both teams will only receive 6,000 tickets in the 69,000 seater stadium. So many locals must have already bought reasonably priced tickets to account for the other 57,000; this is highly encouraging for the future of football in the Caucasus region. Well… Read more »

Chrispy

Hahaha….love this. You sir, are my comment champion today.

Stranke koen

10% seat allotment for fans and not being able to field mkhi who has more big game experience and will almost certainly be required vs boring 0-0 Chelsea for extra time. What an absolute joke of an organization uefa. Arsenal winning the uel also means a preseason fixture vs Liverpool which would set the tone for the new comers. Physicality of the league and all that.Gutted .

Hantal

If we need him we’re in trouble

Redbaron

Letters of support sent by UEFA will probably be comsigned to bin without reading.

They should send a terse representation reminding that Azerbaijan’s participation in future UEFA events will suffer if they don’t issue a visa or provide iron clad guarantee of Mkhi’s safety.

Bob

That would require them to show some balls… if they did, that would be the real headline!

Gana

If the real Micki turns up to the game, he can be a game changer.
It will be a loss for Arsenal if he has to sit out the final due to safety concerns.

John C

The fact that this match is being played in Azerbaijan, which isn’t even in Europe, shows you what UEFA’s priorities are.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, until UEFA and FIFA get split up and have separate and unlinked entities to deal with the both commercial operations and a separate sanctioning body, they’ll forever be corrupt.

Martin

Azerbaijan is transcontinental and is in both Europe and Asia

John C

It’s over 2000km to the east of the Bosporus, it’s in Asia.

Jack Action

So is Iran and Iraq then. Same longitude…

Not Europe. Complete b.s.

Deep

Geographically, the Lesser Caucasus is more Asian than European. But, culturally, they are truly both. A melting pot of many cultures including Russian, Iranian, Turkish, European Orthodox Christians, even Mongolian.

Richie

We need to protect our Mikki.

Bai Blagoi

If the Azerbaijani state (not UEFA — the state, which has made all the efforts to promote itself and host that final) does not provide guarantees for the safety, Arsenal should boycott that final.

Hantal

Then Chelsea would get the win. Uefa aren’t that strong

assistantref

If Chelsea would be craven enough to take a “win” in those circumstances they really are as bad as we sometimes say they are.

Richie

Has anyone checked to see if Mustafi has an Armenian grandmother?

Owl faced Deeney's cojones

I laughed but Richie, you’re nasty.

Rich

The Home Office’s of Armenia + Azerbaijan look at be simply doing their jobs, you can’t argue with common sense measures that are designed to keep the peace, protect their citizens, and uphold the current ceasefire. But this final makes no sense, and you have to question the logic in holding the final here, why are UEFA awarding countries who can’t guarantee the safety of other European countries citizens, the opportunity to host a European final? There’s 3 group matches and a quarter final of Euro 2020 to be played in Baku, and UEFA should make it perfectly clear that… Read more »

Andy

If this can’t be resolved, the club should refuse to play in Baku. UEFA would have to switch it to somewhere more temperate. Suspect that the Azeris will cave in and give him a visa though.

Hantal

That’s what should happen- unfortunately Uefa wouldn’t do it

A Different George

I don’t think there is an issue about his receiving a visa; I think he would have received one (or maybe, actually did receive one) when we played Qarabag. I think Arsenal (rightly) want something more in the way of assurances about the way he will be treated, including, first of all, guarantees about his safety.

Mkhitaryan is of course not just Armenian, he is captain of the Armenia national team. As such, he is surely seen by the sort of crazed nationalists about whom Arsenal are worried, as a “legitimate” target for their hatred.

Santori

He provided a good assist for the third Auba goal. But we can manage without him for the finals. Come summer, we are probably going to have to assess who we can sell. We have Cech, Ramsey, Welbeck, Lichsteiner heading out of the door for free. So no income there. We may let Koscielny go too for nominal fee, the veteran will increasingly face wear and tear issue. That’s 5 players immediately out for next to nothing. Then we may try to sell Jenkinson and Elneny. The fact that Emery prefers to use Mustafi ahead of Jenkinson is telling if… Read more »

A Different George

Come on, it’s one thing for these long repetitive posts to appear in player ratings or articles about transfer policy, but this is completely off-topic. Whether we need a new centre half is simply not relevant to the question of Mkhitaryan’s safety, Baku as a finals location, or UEFA’s policies. Please stop.

Ealing

I stop at Santori and skip to the bottom. I gave up long ago. It’s not even worth a thumb down !!

Kwame Ampadu Down

This is the norm sadly A Different George. I tried at first to argue with him…then decided to take a different tack & just take the piss. It’s actually though dawned on me today (genuinely) that there may be ‘on the spectrum issues’ involved. Not sure how to react to this stuff any more.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

It is only one side if you try to discuss anything with santori. Either he/she comes to you or nothing. It’s like talking to a wall, really. Wont reply, wont respond and brain dead

the?2n

Glad to see your Mustafi boner is waning BUt…

Sean Williams

If Arsenal cannot field the team they want, Miki is sure to be on the bench at least, then how can the final be valid? If he cannot go then the final must be moved. There would surely be a legal case to answer if not?

John Burt

UEFA should threaten to move the game if the authorities in Azerbaijan cannot or will not guarantee his safety within days and moreover, be prepared to carry out the threat. The game could be played at Wembley which would be much more convenient for one and all!

Dial square

How can anyone guarantee his safety?, anybody could run onto the pitch at any time, they won’t have a clue who’s in the crowd.

Oscandwarf

‘they won’t have a clue who’s in the crowd.’

About 20k supporters (almost half at great expense), and about 50k UEFA officials and their friends, family and business associates.

Vonnie

Sadly, I would keep him at home. He’s a high profile figure from a country considered to be their enemy, and I wouldn’t trust stadium security in a place like that. The game should never be played in Baku, but I guess they supplied the fattest brown envelopes.

Goonertilidie

Serious question: if we can’t get solid assurances on the safety of Mkhi then should we actually consider refusing to play?

I kind of get the feeling that most people aren’t too bothered about this as Mkhi is a fringe player. What would the reaction be if it were Laca or Auba?

assistantref

Yes, absolutely. We should boycott, and we should publicly call on Chelsea to join us. If they don’t they look like craven cowards, if they do UEFA is in a very tough position because it would be an utter farce if they tried to give the victory to one of Frankfurt or Valencia, and probably those teams would refuse it in those circumstances too.

muledeer

Go back to sleep.

assistantref

I’m under no illusions that our club leadership has the moral fibre or the balls to do it. But they should. And if they did it would be a huge headache for UEFA.

Kwame Ampadu Down

100% agree that we should refuse to play. 99.9% know we won’t.

assistantref

I realize this is probably a minority opinion but…if they can’t guarantee the safety of Mkhi Arsenal ought to boycott the final. I don’t care what UEFA does to us. It’s absolutely absurd they are holding the final in a location where it isn’t safe for players of some nationalities to attend.

Macka

Move the final to Wembley if they refuse miki a visa

Belfast Gooner

As much as I am against politics interfering in football, I don’t think Mkhi will be with us for the final Purely because his safety cannot be guaranteed, purely because he is from Armenia. Just Google Ramil Safarov. He was an Azerbaijani army officer who attended a UN course in Hungary to learn English. There were two Armenian officers at the course as well, and he basically murdered one of them with an axe while he slept. His argument was because he was Armenian. He was sentenced to 30 years jail in Hungary He appealed to be allowed to go… Read more »

Andy

Great point. I suspect, in practice, that Mkhitaryan may pick up an injury against Burnley. That will make everyone’s life easier.

Kismayo

Mikhi should be part of the team to Baku

Karl

Why would UEFA find a country that puts players safety in doubt an acceptable venue?

It was never going to be a stadium that was within reach of most fans of a team likely to be in the final either.

George

Seems like the perfect opportunity for UEFA to say screw you to Azerbaijan, save face and move the final to Cardiff. They can even keep their filthy lucre.

If they don’t, I expect a comment from Deeney to be forthcoming.

Ronny

Now, even the brilliant Ajax has been termed bottlers. Anyone who does better than us because they ARE better have to be negatively tagged. Huh? Love them cause they play the beautiful game in the beautiful way. While we are at it, I also been seeing some hate against Liverpool in comments here. So, a team which has been built the right way with no injection of oil money, through blood, sweat and heart, and play with such gusto on field is going to be hated too, onstensibly cause their fans won’t shut up about their history? Which set of… Read more »

Danger Mouse

I think he was taking the piss.

Alexa

I am curious how many Arsenal and Chelsea fans would actually be going? The more important issue I feel is why is a city/country hosting a Europa League final when there are questions about any player, management, referee or fans safety. If there are any such issues then that city/country should automatically be disqualified.

goonshow

Interesting point that no-one yet seems to have picked up on: Assuming a sell-out, there will be at least 60,000 ‘neutrals in the stadium (minus the few thousands UEFA freeloaders, bribees and corporate schmoozers). Except that one must wonder how many will actually be neutral? It’s highly likely that – should Mkhi be in the squad – they will be completely biased towards Chelsea, leaving us to play a final thousands of miles from home, in a hostile stadium, with one of our key players at real risk. All the above can make the difference in the Azebajan roulette of… Read more »