Azerbaijan ambassador: Mkhitaryan will be safe unless he ‘plays the issue’

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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.

For more on this issue, Man City, and lots more, check out today’s Arsecast Extra

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Matt
Matt

That’s a threat.

HansRott
HansRott

Yes it is, and it’s all down to UEFA.

Who the fuck organizes a competitive football final in a country as remote and unsafe as Azerbaijan?

That there should be a checklist to exclude such places should be a given.

So, the only reasonable conclusion a reasonable person might conclude is that UEFA wasn’t incompetent at all, but that UEFA was on the positive side of a hefty financial transaction.

Doubtless they are just fine in investigating such charges themselves.

AFBaller
AFBaller

Remote from whom? Ethnocentrism at play.

It’s a member of the UEFA and has been so for decades now. Hosted many qualification games and even the Eurovision song contest not too long ago.

bob
bob

Exactly!

“sure come along, we’ll protect you…but if we so happen to feel you’ve slighted us for anything at all then we reserve the right to let a stadium full of locals rip you apart… Completely your choice bud”

Almọnd
Almọnd

We keep complaining about the corruption in Nigeria and many African countries but my question is… Are FIFA & UEFA African Associations? Threatening a Footballer publicly and nothing is and would be done about it.

Manjit
Manjit

Wow, wow, wow….. Look at the hate…. I am pretty convinced that if Miki goes there they shall harm him by using the above exception — saying he had ulterior motives.

NairoGunner89
NairoGunner89

Stupid, stupid UEFA.

Double98
Double98

Fun fact – Security and Safety are not mentioned in the Bidding Regulations – https://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/Regulations/uefaorg/Regulations/02/54/31/61/2543161_DOWNLOAD.pdf

zaeta
zaeta

The question regarding safety have been brought up way too much that I wouldn’t even go there if the trip was paid.

Arm boy
Arm boy

Its never been azerbajani land. Matter of fact, there’s never been such country or nation. Check your history.
Your language – turkish
Your alphabet – cyrillic(russian)
Your last names – all end in -ov/ova, -ev/eva like russians.
You’re some hybrid mix
Armenians have own language(doesn’t belong to any major branch), own alphabet( աբդհտսօգնգշ), all last names end in -ian/yan

Manjit
Manjit

Mate you just offended all the liberal muppets in Britain!

La Défense
La Défense

The really funny thing is that there are more Azerbaijanis in Iran than in the country of Azerbaijan itselft.

eternalflamini
eternalflamini

“you’re some hybrid mix”

Don’t see anything wrong with that! i WISH i was a hybrid mix instead of having the most boring, homogenous heritage around.

Let’s not undermine genuine concerns over scheduling a game in Azerbaijan by insulting the whole country for spurious reasons.

Tungor
Tungor

Well, you can be certain that at best you are also a hybrid mix, there has been more than a few different war lords with friends crossing every corner of the map.

AFBaller
AFBaller

There’s been such a country since 1992. Leave that conflict out of this issue.

RedCurrant
RedCurrant

It’s the year 2019 and UEFA have awarded the final of what is arguably the second most prestigious club competition in the world to a country whose ambassador to the UK has indirectly threatened the wellbeing of a professional footballer.

Let that sink in for a few seconds.

Christopher Wreh
Christopher Wreh

Football eh

Elbon
Elbon

The threat was fairly direct.

eamonem
eamonem

Reminds me of Ringo Starr’s “I’m warning you with peace and love”

ach
ach

While i agree that holding the final at baku is stupid from fans perspective, i actually agree with this azerbaijan guy. The whole micki thing has been way overplayed to the point it’s getting annoying. Armenian athlete in the past has been granted visa just fine and nothing really happens to them security-wise. If anything, with the way people keep whining about micki not playing, it might actualy antagonize them to do something to him if he actually come.

Arm boy
Arm boy

Reed it again. Neither athletes who visited bajan before, never visited Nagorno-Karabakh. They were carefully chosen

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

Especially if he looks at someone in the wrong way, right?

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

What are you talking about??!

GoonerMcGoonFace
GoonerMcGoonFace

No Mkhi. No Match. And frankly, w/this douche’s comments, the match should be moved. What a POS!

Kevin
Kevin

Would be a real baller move if Arsenal and Chelsea boycotted the match. Of course we wouldn’t get the cance to secure CL football, but still…

Kevin
Kevin

chance* (ugh!)

Double98
Double98

They could stage the game at wembley or Wh*te H%$T l*ne (call it the europa toilet bowl) and phone in the result.

Compensate all the Azerbaijanis who paid for their tickets.

Wembley is Free that night – http://www.wembleystadium.com/events

Nate
Nate

That was the right thing to do to teach these ass holes a lesson that you can not bribe and buy your way to international recognition as the most corrupt and fake country that hell Hole is!

Jack4343
Jack4343

Wow…”sure you can come to our field of mines but if you choose to walk around then that’s another issue.” Sheesh…way to go UEFA!

Ballz
Ballz

This guy basically just threatened Mkhi.

Rich
Rich

We’d be crazy to take him, we shouldn’t put his personal safety at risk, and we don’t need the potential disruption before such a huge game, potentially unsettling the rest of the squad.

The stadium will be full of neutral supporters, a fan ran onto the pitch at Mkhitaryan in the home game against Quarabag this season, if we couldn’t stop 1 fan at the Emirates? What chance do we have with potentially 50,000+ baying for his blood?

Aitcho
Aitcho

The fan who ran on to the pitch was Armenian. A supporter of Armenia’s illegal invasion of Nagorno Karabakh. We all saw his flag and the t-shirt he was wearing.
Let’s not all lose it over non issues and perhaps also understand why there is a dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Eric Blair
Eric Blair

I didn’t really know anything about this conflict, so looked it up. It’s an incredibly messy situation not dissimilar to the Balkan wars of the 90s and 2000s. Mkhitaryan cannot go under any circumstances, it would be a danger to him and everyone else. In fact, I’m not sure any of our players/staff will feel entirely safe as this has become more than a football match and extremely politicized. I predict disturbances of some kind. Is it too late to move it or boycott it? It would depend on Chelsea having a moral backbone so probably not.

Kabu
Kabu

Can’t even imagine how Mcki is going to play with all this in his head

Mpls
Mpls

Sounds to me like that’s the point. This douchebag is in no uncertain terms to me basically saying ‘come if you want, but we hate you, so you really shouldn’t.’

KongoKim
KongoKim

We really shouldn’t attend this final. And Chelsea should be with us(haha). It would be a massive statement, which of course not also gonna upset a lot of fans but also put the next season in danger with the possibiliy not playing any international football if we receive a ban for that. This whole thing is a farce.
On the other hand i saw the “Visit Rwanada” Quiz on the offical social media account where they claim how high the percentage of women in the government is. in a fucking dictatorship. how can we adress political issues if we are part of it in such a way? it feels like we crossed a line a long time ago in this industry and there is no point of turning back.

cagooner
cagooner

I really like that idea. Arsenal and Chelsea in unison don’t participate. Instead play the match at Wembley or the toilet bowl. Who cares about ramifications for next season (well, we all do really, but it would be so good to take a united firm stance against the idiots at UEFA).

Bgm
Bgm

How much do you know about Rwanda?

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

That is absolutely disgusting. UEFA, hang your heads in shame you total bunch of arseholes.

I hope we stuff them & our whole squad reveal Mkhi shirts when we collect the trophy.

Mpls
Mpls

It would be beautiful, but from the sound of this asshat it would be very dangerous.

Fuck UEFA, the corrupt cunts.

goonero
goonero

During all this shit, has anyone considered if Mhki even wants to go? How would his family and friends feel about it? What would the general Armenian response be?

KongoKim
KongoKim

Honeslty, not a good idea to put the spotlight on him in this situation. We, as a union, should adress the issue and speak out before we force an Individual to, who already received threats in public media. If he does, we have to back him.

Hamza Adesanu
Hamza Adesanu

The Armenians are occupying part of Azerbaijan. They probably think it’s a price worth paying.

Punter
Punter

Why is a ‘class A’ event held in this kind of place? UEFA is beyond a joke.

verej

petro-dollars….that’s why
Azerbaijan spends billons of dollars on propaganda to legitimize itself as a real country.

Clockendrider
Clockendrider

This is what happens when you play the final of a European sports tournament in the capital of an autocratic non European state.
Still the money’s good, UEFA , and that’s the important thing

The_Kolkata_Gooner
The_Kolkata_Gooner

I get what you’re saying, but I feel it is unnecessarily complicating the issue by bringing into this standards of safety in European stadiums, which is a different issue altogether, with its own problems of course…for example, just how safe would an African player feel in Italian stadiums? The UEFA has obviously fucked up big time here, like the FA has with the Sterling case, or the Italian League has with Moise Keane, and in many other occasions I’m sure, where players did not feel safe.

Make Arsenal Great Again
Make Arsenal Great Again

This has been a PR disaster for UEFA

Mpls
Mpls

Let’s make sure it continues to be one.

Dan
Dan

Armenian clubs presumably can also qualify for the Europa league. If one of them had qualified for the final, would the team be allowed to travel? And what of the fans? Its unlikely they would ever make it that far, but it destroys the integrity of the competition to essentially have the final held in a place they couldn’t travel too.

JLG
JLG

if Armenian clubs qualified to the final then the question of corruption wouldn’t only be about the choice of venue for the final but for every refereee in every match en route to the final! (says an Armenian…)

Vonnie
Vonnie

That is clearly a threat, there is no way we can take Mikhi to Baku. Not only would his safety be a problem, but the safety of the whole squad. We saw what happened to the City bus in Liverpool, what if the locals decided to do a proper job on our team bus? Not to mention a whole stadium united against the Arsenal team. I don’t think his participation would go down well in Armenia either, and what state of mind would he be in. This is a total fuck up and it would seem that the pressure is getting to Azerbaijan, the spectacular event they spent so many bribes on is becoming an embarrassment, and highlighting all the bad things about them and UEFA. They could probably have got away with it if Arsenal, with the captain of the Armenian team, hadn’t qualified for the final. They must hate us! Hopefully we can get the win and all get home safely, team and fans.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

With the locals against us, as they will be, this is essentially an away game for us. It will be the toughest away game we’ve faced this season, and our supporters will be a tiny minority in the stadium. We can expect a lot of booing whenever we have the ball, if only because Arsenal are likely “guilty by association” simply for having an Armenian player and demanding reassurances of his safety (Which is likely the same as saying “We don’t trust Azerbaijani people” to Azerbaijani football fans. We all know how carried away football crowds can get). Expect the ref to be affected by the atmosphere and tend to give Chelsea any benefit of the doubt.

Russ
Russ

Fuck that!

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

” provide safety and security for every fan, player and staff member coming to this game”

Unless ofcourse, you’re Armenian.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

No, we’re beyond that point. Our Club has cast aspersions on the Azerbaijani people, or such will be the attitude of the Azerbaijani people in the crowd if they are anything like the football crowds in places like England, Italy, Spain….)

David Hillier's luggage
David Hillier's luggage

I hardly know anything about the tension between the nations, certainly not enough to take sides, yet by throwing about comments like that Tahir Taghizadeh seems to be doing a good job at alienating large sectors of western European, a sector of the world that Azerbaijan have been heavily courting the last decade or so.

Great piece of ambassadorial work there, Mr Ambassador.

Official Club Statement
Official Club Statement

I thought for a second that it said, “if you want to play, the issue will then be different.”
The ambassador is clearly a Chelsea fan!

assistantref
assistantref

If our club wasn’t run by cowards we would right now be reaching out to Chelsea to see if we can get them to present a united front and come out together saying we refuse to play the game there. If both clubs stood up together it would be extremely difficult for UEFA politically to hang us both out to dry.

Of course our club is run by cowards so they will limply roll over. I’d love to be proved wrong but I don’t think I will.

A P
A P

It’s easy to talk from behind the keyboard.

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

Maybe they already jave. Anyway, it is UEFA, they would love to hang a few English clubs out to dry

Cultured determination
Cultured determination

Arsenal and chelsea should have an sgreement to play only youths from the reserves. Fair competition to see who wins and grts the CL spot. No fans travel there and the people in the stadium pays to watch reserve team football. This will go down in history and be remembered.

Chris
Chris

It sums up why there is resistance to go for the player. His fear of being arrested. I think the club has been mislead to some extent

“His problem is that he has visited a military occupied portion of Azerbaijan which in doing so without permission from Azerbijani government.“

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Placed in his statement deliberately. This is against the rules/expectations of the Olympic committee, and sport in general, but whether the slimebucket businessmen running UEFA care about keeping politics out of football I doubt very much as it would reduce their profits/kickbacks.

Bahhir281
Bahhir281

Dear english football funs, do not forget that the only World Cup England has ever won was due to the decision of the Azerbaijanian Referee… This whole political game around HM is artifically blown and has no basis.. Azerbaijan and Baku is way less dangerous than London… Indeed

Tarantito
Tarantito

Yeah definitely with the tickets allocation, and a stadium filled with people who don’t stand the sight of Micky, he’ll be “safe”.

TOGooner
TOGooner

He’s an ambassador he has to continue his country’s bullshit posturing on the issue. But if there was a public concern, I think the Azerbaijan government would have it in their best interest to at least pretend to be safe, accepting etc. They have probably provided all sorts of assurances in private.

Look we don’t have a stacked bench we may need Mkhi, and I think Emery has had a talk with him and probably made a decision already. Maybe it’s an added motivator and he may play his heart out like the Swiss Albanians with the hand eagles at the World Cup.

Eric Blair
Eric Blair

So Mkhi comes off the bench, scores the winning goal after dribbling past the entire Chelsea defense a la Maradona, rips off his shirt to reveal a tattoo of the Armenian flag, and then…. everyone in the stadium applauds and goes home quietly, right?

Family guy
Family guy

Good god what did ambassador Mombasa say? Ambassador Mombasa? Did the soap kill you? Ambassador Mombasa?

Peaceful Gooner
Peaceful Gooner

Azerbaijan is a Turkish country. The Turks carried out a genocide against the Armenians and the Kurds a century ago. The Turkish government, the Azerbaijani government, are both racist institutes where they promote ultra-nationalism on the expense of other races. I am not even surprised by these threats coming from a government official, this is the Azerbaijani official government stance on this issue.

No wonder Arsenal are worried.

EZD
EZD

Definitively menacing. What’s particularly concerning is that he has complained about Mkhi previously visiting the disputed territory, like he has some sort of charge sheet of offences against Azerbaijan.

If an ambassador sees it that way, then you’ve got to think there are people in the street who will feel hostile to Mkhi about the point.

I can’t see him coming.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Its a green light to the Nationalistic nutters in the crowd. You have to remember, EVERY football club/country has a few nutters in the crowd. Now that their ambassador has stated his “crime” against Azerbaijan they will feel justified in taking action should he go there, and by association the Arsenal team will be seen as supporting and condoning his “crime” against Azerbaijan.

db10s
db10s

I feel that because it’s Armenia and Mihki that this isnt as a big deal to UEFA.

Imagine if Azerbaijan had a ban on German,English or French players and we had to go there without Ozil Leno and Mustafi.

Elbon
Elbon

He shouldn’t travel. That’s obvious from the clearly threatening tone of this “reassurance”.

Moxrex
Moxrex

Very stupid of Miki to visit a disputed land. Professionals should not get involved in regional disputes otherwise it makes it very difficult

Moxrex
Moxrex

Also it would be better to leave him home since the locals will get on our backs for having him there. Since alot of the seats will be going to neutrals it would be better to lower the pressure.
On the other hand if the team can stick with one another, take him and let the team perform.
A goodwill point for Arsenal could be having Ozil in the line up and try to motivate the locals to back our team.

sos
sos

The Azeris are the only one’s who call it disputed. Artsakh is under Armenian control for 25 years and maybe the Azeris should have though twice about annihilating the Armenian population in Artsakh before crying about its loss.

verej

How would Henrikh Mkihtaryan would be safe there? When, even playing one of the signature pieces of 20th century greatest classical music “ SABER DANCSE ” is forbidden in that country, JUST because it was written and composed by none other than greatest Armenian composer and conductor Aram Khachaturian.
DO I NEED TO SAY ANTHING ELSE?
This, so called Azerbaijan is a totalitarian country which actively propagating xenophobia against Armenians at every level of its society, encourages hate crimes against Armenians, lauds individuals committing hate crimes, hinders any individual or groups from conversation of peace and routinely threatens ARTSAKH with war, spends billions of Petro-dollars on propaganda in futile attempt to cove-up its atrocities against innocent Armenians of ARTSAKH.

Aitcho
Aitcho

Yeah, but Armenia did invade Nagorno Karabakh. That’s why FK Qarabag can’t play in their home town and Azeris had to flee.
That’s the issue. We can’t get away from that

sos
sos

Read up on the history of the war first my friend.

Tungor
Tungor

UEFA is disqualifying itself as a football federation. No doubt, there was money under the table, similar to Putin and Petrol station winning FIFA votes.

Gz UEFA, you play it right into the hands of super league take over.

sos
sos

Move the game to Yerevan!! LOL!!