The Azerbaijan ambassador to the UK says that as long as Henrikh Mkhitaryan goes to Baku to play football, he’ll be perfectly safe.
The issue of security has overshadowed the build-up to the Europa League final when Arsenal take on Chelsea next Wednesday.
The club have yet to be reassured over the Armenian’s participation because of political unrest between the two nations, but Tahir Taghizadeh told Sky News that there would be no problems with the 30 year old from a sporting perspective.
“This is a Class A event, if our purpose is to play political games around it it is something different, you are being paid as a footballer not a politician, lets leave other issues aside,” he said.
“His problem is that he has visited a military occupied portion of Azerbaijan which in doing so without permission from Azerbijani government.
“This entails consequences including blacklisted by the government. But he will be able to have security and safety guarantees.
“My message to Mkhitaryan would be: you’re a footballer, you want to play football? Go to Baku you are safe there, if you want to play the issue then that’s a different story.
“What I can guarantee is that the Azerbaijan government will do everything what needs to be done and provide safety and security for every fan, player and staff member coming to this game.”
It’s not the most reassuring message, is it? I mean ‘If you want to play the issue then that’s a different story’ sounds just a bit menacing actually.
And if that’s the kind of communication that has been forthcoming from the Azerbaijani government then you can understand why there’s been such a question mark over him travelling with the squad.