Arsenal hit out at UEFA as visa struggles further hamper supporters

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The fallout from UEFA’s decision to host the Europa League final in Baku continues with news that a number of British-Armenian Arsenal season ticket holders have been denied visas to enter the country.

The Times (£) report that Arsenal are now trying to find out from the Foreign Office whether exerting pressure on the Azerbaijan government, who have no diplomatic relations with Armenia due to a conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, will result in them making exceptions for those eager to watch us on 29 May.

It’s believed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been granted a visa but that Unai Emery is yet to make a decision about whether to take the midfielder due to fears for his safety and any ensuing disruption that could cause to our build-up to the game.

As you’re all aware, Arsenal and Chelsea have only been allocated 6,000 seats each for the 68,000 capacity Olympic stadium. UEFA seemed to justify their decision by suggesting the local infrastructure couldn’t cope with a bigger influx of visitors. Obviously, that leads to questions about Baku’s suitability as a venue for such a high-profile game.

The visa issue, coupled with the expense of embarking on a ridiculously challenging journey, has put off swathes of Arsenal supporters making the journey. What’s left of our 6,000 allocation has gone on sale to Red members – an unprecedented situation for a final.

In a statement released today, Arsenal criticised UEFA for the decision to host the match in Baku.

“We are bitterly disappointed by the fact that due to transport limitations Uefa can only make a maximum of 6,000 tickets available to Arsenal for a stadium with a capacity of well over 60,000. Time will tell if it is even possible for 6,000 Arsenal fans to attend the match, given how extreme the travel challenges are.

“We have 45,000 season-ticket holders and for so many fans to miss out due to Uefa selecting a final venue with such limited transport provision is quite simply not right. The reality is that whoever reached the final would not be able to meet demand from their supporters.

“We have received many complaints from our fans about this and we fully share their concerns.

“On behalf of our fans, we would like to understand the criteria by which venues are selected for finals, and also how supporter requirements are taken into account as part of this.

“Moving forward we would urge Uefa to ensure that supporter logistics and requirements are a key part of any future decisions for final venues as what has happened this season is unacceptable, and cannot be repeated. We would be happy to join any future discussions to avoid this situation happening again.”

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Le Bob

The Baku-debacle is another example of UEFA trying to out-FIFA FIFA. Corrupt bastards.

ChrisM
ChrisM

Baku debacle …. debakule.

I’m aware I’ve added nothing.

Dennis Elbow
Dennis Elbow

😄😄

sambo
sambo

We knew it was in Baku for a year, why haven’t the club figured out the situation?

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

What could they have done a year ago? Charter enough private aircraft to ferry 6000 people to Baku? We didn’t know the number of tickets we would be allocated a year ago. Funnily enough we didn’t even know we would even qualify for the final a year ago. Hell, we didn’t even know Emery would be our manager a year ago.

Jojo
Jojo

Spot on! Watch them stitch us up on the day. Rotten to the core.

trev
trev

Head to North London to b watch it. Be great atmosphere in the pubs. As far as I am aware The Tollington is the only pub charging to get in £10 a ticket but does include a drink

Gus Caesar
Gus Caesar

The Tolly is already sold out.

George
George

Ah The Tolly, I miss it. Enjoy, lads.

Ric
Ric

The Gunners/twelve pins will be the same. Think a tenner will get you 2 drinks and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance it’ll be on the door

Laca-Sead
Laca-Sead

Dear UEFA,
Is it too late to move the venue to Paris? I’ll b there in two weeks time, that would be awfully convenient for me.
I understand there are some level of corruption going on with you lot filling your pockets with obscure money, going around allocating main sports events in unlikely places but where is the appeal in producing a shit show? Terrible promotion of the sport we love or don’t you love it and are in it for money? Which is understandably seducing.

Waiting to hear from you.

Kind regards,
Laca-Sead

UEFA
UEFA

Dear Laca-Sead,

It’s a good suggestion but you didn’t offer us enough money.

Yours sincerely,

UEFA

Henry O.O
Henry O.O

Dear UEFA,
please, i urge you as a body to reschedle the venue of the Europa to another suitable and secured venue instead of BAKU for security reasons.

UEFA
UEFA

Dear Henry,

We’ll all be safe and secure, so we don’t really see the problem. Although if you wanted to send us your concerns in a big brown envelope we may re-consider.

Yours sincerely,

UEFA

Ben
Ben

I know it’s not going to be a popular comment, but I can see why they might do these things.

Countries like Azerbaijan might really welcome such a prestigious event coming to their country, and it is a very good decision to make for inclusion and cultural relations. So in some ways, it can be seen as a nice decision!

The issue I have though, is that there should be lots of other considerations that affect these decisions. Aside from the obvious mess for the supporters of both teams, there’s the huge environmental footprint of delivering a major event somewhere that isn’t yet suitable for it.

The next thing that might happen is that Azerbaijan could look at this and say “we need an infrastructure to enable these events in the future” (just look at the stadium for evidence of that…) and spend a load of material resource and money on creating something that isn’t at all important when you consider the current state of global affairs. In reality, there are much bigger issues than inclusion, and they ought to be factored into every decision.

A perfect example is China, which developed along a similar short-sighted political path and has left itself a mountain to climb. It had stripped itself (and other countries) of valuable resources, depleted its productive agricultural land, and although the benefit is that they are now one of the global leaders in renewable technology, one has to question the total cost of that development on humanity, not to mention the environment and the essential needs of everyone who do and will ever live on this planet.

All I can see is that decisions are too often made by a select few who are too blinkered through a particular belief to be truly aware of the realities of the decisions that are being made.

Sports are important, and so are inclusion, equality and supporting the growth of nations, but don’t f*ck the world and everyone on it at the same time.

A Different George
A Different George

It’s not necessarily corruption in the narrow sense of a brown envelope filled with cash–though I am sure that happens occasionally. But if you are running for UEFA office, and Moldova has the same vote as Germany, it may make sense to promise important benefits to many smaller federations.

Benglian
Benglian

Can’t Chelsea and Arsenal book Wembley a couple of days before. Play a competitive match with the understanding that the loser will consider the winner the UEFA cup winner. Then send some kids over to Baku to play out the same exact result as the Wembley game ‘for the cameras’?

bob
bob

Or do exactly that but without the pleasantries for UEFA. That way they get no final, instead a bunch of angry sponsors and Azerbaijanis.

They have forgotten that the teams are the most important part of football. Hitting them where it hurts – their greedy pockets – is the only way they could remember that message.

Budapest fan
Budapest fan

They couldn’t care less about the fans after getting a nice payback for going there. Same as F1 and other sports. They pay to get exposure and are used to feeding some corrupt mouths to get their way. Lovely clarity from UEFA as well.

Stuart B
Stuart B

“On behalf of our fans, we would like to understand the criteria by which venues are selected for finals…” A disingenuous question if ever there was one. We all know what the criteria are – how many $$$ can be funnelled into the pockets of UEFA officials? Maybe I am cynical but hearing such a relatively strong statement from a football club makes me think they are trying to foster a bit of a them-v-us mentality. Which is a bit rich given how our ownership model doesn’t appear to give the slightest damn for the fans.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Actually I think they’re more concerned about not having a player able to go there safely. I doubt they are truly worried over his safety but purely because we are being given a slight handicap in our quest to earn the winners money prize. Its a potential loss of revenue.

My Arse-nal
My Arse-nal

Good on Arsenal releasing such a strongly worded statement to UEFA and realising it’s the fans that matter! Will UEFA do anything about it? Will they fuck. I can’t be arsed to search any Chelsea news but hopefully they do the same as us and put pressure on these corrupt bastards.

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin

Proud of how strong the statement is.

Keeping it Monreal
Keeping it Monreal

It says it all that we’re struggling to sell our meagre allocation of 6,000 tickets. It is going to be an extremely odd atmosphere… I can imagine it being very very quiet with so few actual fans from either team there

Keeping it Monreal
Keeping it Monreal

On another thought, it would be a nice touch for arsenal to put on heavily subsidised flights to Baku for the fans but given the unwillingness of that twat Kronke to put his hand in his pocket and spend a penny of his own money that’s wishful thinking

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Its not like hiring a few coaches to Watford. It would cost a couple of million at least. They’d have to charter aircraft and at best they’d get about 300 fans on each. They’d need to pay for 20 large planes and crews and all the costs that go with it (like fuel, for instance).

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

…and all with no guarantee that 6000 fans in stadium would make much difference to how we play with possibly 6000 Chelsea fans and 40,000 corporate seats occupied by uninterested UEFA-buddies-business-types all munching loudly on prawn sandwiches. With the other 12,000 booing us for even having an Armenian in our squad.

Face facts, even if we don’t take Mhkitaryan we employ an Armenian player at Arsenal and we publicly tried to get extra security laid on just to protect him from the Azerbaijani crowd who we have implied are potentially dangerous bad people. We are the away team at Baku and the crowd will let us know it.

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

Is there a chance if Mkhi plays that it would be a terrible anti-Arsenal atmosphere as opposed to very quiet ?

A Different George
A Different George

More than a chance, a virtual certainty.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

…even if he doesn’t go.

James denunzio
James denunzio

Honestly trying to figure out how I as an American can snag a ticket. I thought with 6k tickets there would be no chance, but If there is a chance I really want to get out to Baku and the flights are less than 12oo right now and I can get off work for a week

Scott P
Scott P

If you are a member of Arsenal America, you will want to get in touch with them. They have posted on Facebook that tickets have been made available to supporters clubs, including them, in limited numbers.

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

Dear Stan,
We are in a final and can’t fill 6,000 seats I expect that isn’t a financial return that makes you happy?? Haha!! Spend some fucking money.
Warm regards
Paul

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Does Arsenal get the proceeds from those 6000 tickets or does it all go to UEFA?

Der Kaiser
Der Kaiser

Well done Arsenal Football Club for issuing such a strongly worded statement. The least UEFA should do is be humble enough to make an apology and ensure such a debacle never occurs again!

Okester
Okester

I’ve 50+ away points and despite it being the most important game of our season couldn’t justify the cost and time away from the family this game demands. Return flights from Baku required 3 changes, not to mention accommodation more expensive than the topiest in London. This coupled with the visa application requirements, I just took a hard pass. Travel/hotel ticket coming in at the price of a season ticket. No thanks UEFA you money grabbing A***holes,you’re alright. I’ll watch it down the pub. A higher % of fans there anyway…

Arsenal badge
Arsenal badge

Why can’t they change the venue if it’s very difficult for fans to get there? This country doesn’t allow visas to this particular country because of political reasons, also their airport can handle only 15k a day! FIFA are absolutely a joke of organisation, they don’t care about the fans nothing!!!

JP26
JP26

Bit rich from Arsenal considering the way the current ownership treats fans…

Jojo
Jojo

WTF has that got to do with this issue!

Rich
Rich

These types of decisions aren’t exclusive to UEFA…. Sky+BT are just as idiotic, they regularly schedule games that are a logistical nightmare for supporters, without giving it a second thought.

We should really get our own house in order, before we go slinging mud at others.

PL teams have been happy to reap the financial rewards from broadcasting, without ever standing up for their supporters.

Therefor I find this type of virtue signalling statement hypocritical at best

John C
John C

Sky and BT schedule games according to the packages the premier league sells them, i.e 8 first pick 4pm sunday matches, 4 second pick 8pm monday night matches etc etc and it’s the clubs that have decided to do that so not to clash with the traditional 3pm saturday kick off time.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

The PL schedules games the way that they know any broadcaster would want them. No broadcaster is going to accept the traditional 10 games at 3pm on Saturday at the sort of money they have to pay to get the rights to show the games live.

Its the broadcasters who push for as many games spread out through the weekend/Monday as possible. The PL gets to charge LOTS more money by doing this, so they happily go along with it. The Clubs get a share of the riches but have no choice but to play when they are told.

The packages the PL sells are determined by what the broadcasters demand.

John C
John C

That’s wrong, the clubs didn’t want to effect the gates for 3pm Saturday kick offs and it’s why all games aren’t televised in the UK.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

You have to remember that outside of the UK the broadcasters can get the rights to show ALL TEN games live. If I understand the setup correctly Optus in Australia pay Sky for live coverage of every match. Sky pay the PL big money to be able to farm live games out to secondary broadcasters around the world.

John C
John C

The fact that Azerbaijan isn’t in Europe should be enough not to hold the final there!

Moosealini
Moosealini

Timbuktu is closer to London than Baku …although admittedly the travel advice is more concerning!

Okester
Okester

Just taken another look at our ticket allocation via the arsenal website (still not sold out btw) – some of the tickets are restricted view! Unbelievable!!

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Wow, a thousand quid to look at a stantion for 90 minutes. I bet those particular tickets are going fast.

Caligunner
Caligunner

Is the game even sold out? Depending if Chelsea and arsenal supporters get tickets in the secondary market who is going to go to this match in Azerbaijan and cheer for which club? I’m sure there ar arsenal and Chelsea fans in that country but enough to sell out the stadium ?

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

A huge number of the tickets are given away by UEFA to their partners and buddies, possibly half of the tickets available. Its quite possible there won’t be any Azerbaijani Chelsea or Arsenal fans there, though UEFA may hand out free flags and banners to some just to make it look like somebody local actually gives a shit who wins the game. This is not a football game to UEFA, it’s a corporate event to boost sales and keep clients sweet.

Alex Hill
Alex Hill

I don’t get this excuse about the infrastructure in Baku not being able to cope with a large influx of visitors.

I have been to the Baku Grand Prix twice in the past three years, I had a look online and it suggests that more than 80,000 people travel there from overseas for that. The airport is brand new and it was easy to enter the country, there are loads of hotels of all standards, the infrastructure was more than capable of handling the foreign visitors for the F1 so why not for football?

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

How many just drove there from surrounding countries? Or went there from Iran by ferry? Or were part of the teams? A Grand Prix is a three day event, so airport capacity wouldn’t be such a problem as for a football match. How many days did it take for all the people to get out of the country after it finished? Who gave the figures as 80.000? The Azerbaijani Tourist Bureau, or their Government?

Matt P
Matt P

right bunch of fuckers

Matt P
Matt P

Mesut might feel at home there, it’s Turkic and he likes mixing with A-Class A-holes like Erdogan.

Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey

I read the Arsenal letter to UEFA and initially felt quite proud that the Club were at least making some sort of stand against another inept decision by UEFA (whether it was a corrupt decision is neither here nor there although money must have come into the Baku selection process). My “initial” feeling then gave way to the thought, “Why havn’t the Club announced a screening of this game at the Emirates?.”It was done for the last FA Cup final appearances. When I raised the matter with some fellow Gooners who always seem to be “in the know” I was told that the stadium was undergoing some building works. Specifically, 800 Platinum member seats are being installed with the prospect of a further £2.4 million of annual season ticket income. So again, money talks, but not to the majority of supporters.