Unai Emery has criticised the decision to hold the Europa League final in Baku because of how difficult it is for Arsenal’s fans to get to the game.
At the time of writing the club have sold just over 3000 tickets, a paltry amount considering the size of the fanbase, the number of season ticket holders and members, and and it illustrates clearly the logistical nightmare it is for people to get to the capital of Azerbaijan.
On the day it was announced Henrikh Mkhitaryan would not travel due to concerns over safety and security, the Arsenal boss faced the press and addressed the issue of the game being staged so far away in a city without sufficient transport infrastructure to cope with the demands of two London based teams.
“The final is very important,” said the Spaniard. “It’s a shame that not all the supporters can travel to Baku, but they are going to be here at home, enjoying with us through the TV. We need to know that and play for them.
“I think our supporters want to come with us and enjoy with us in the stadium because there are not a lot of times you can play in a final in Europe. Every supporter wants to enjoy with the team in this country, but Baku is very far, and they will have to fly because there is not a possibility to drive there.
“It is expensive too. I prefer to be with them, to enjoy it with them, to have a big atmosphere with our supporters.
“I know Arsenal has a lot of fans around the world and I think in Baku there will be a lot of supporters from other countries closer to Baku and the stadium will be full with 70,000 people and supporters.
“But really our supporters in London, who are with us at Emirates Stadium and also in the Premier League, I prefer for them to be with us too in this final.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal have declared themselves ‘very disappointed’ and ‘sad’ over the decision to leave Mkhitaryan at home, and have written to UEFA expressing deep concerns.
One would hope we might hear more from the club on this matter, as those sentiments don’t really cover what an absolute disgrace it is that any player should be excluded from a game like this because of his nationality.
Not only that, Arsenal fans of long-standing have been refused entry into Azerbaijan because of their Armenian heritage.
None of this is covered sufficiently by an expression of disappointment.
Absolutely disgraceful from UEFA, Azerbaijan, and even Arsenal in this situation. I understand Emery is attempting to toe the party (KSE) line here by not rocking the boat with these statements, but that we are backed into a financial situation through the ownership of the club in regards to this match is ridiculous. If Kroenke had any morals, or ethics (well, he wouldn’t be a billionaire hoarding his wealth to the detriment of others, now would he?), he’d pony up the cash difference and allow the club to sit it out to make a statement regarding the behaviors of those… Read more »
That’s not really realistic, is it? Perhaps Roman can do that for Chelsea?
I was with you until the end. I thought you were going to say subsidize the travelling fans up to £500 or £1,000 or something like that, out of his own pocket. It would be like loose change to him, and would go some way to mending his image with us supporters. Then again he’d probably help himself to another consultation fee or some crap.
Don’t be daft. He can hardly come out ahead of the final and call UEFA the corrupt bag of shite it is and Azerbaijan a tinpot dictatorship which has no right holding a European club final as it is not in Europe. Were he to do so, how do you think the officials might manage the game? How secure would the players and fans who travel be?
You can’t blame Azerbaijan as a nation. This is all down to UEFA, simple as. But those slippery fucks will deflect everything and count the cash. It’s their raison d’etre, they exist only to make money – it’s a big business. We should never forget that.
I’m not sure if it is my love for Arsenal or sheer madness but I have just booked a ticket with Thomas Cook for close to a thousand pounds…The problem is that I can’t get a visa. On the visa application, you must state where you are staying but I’m only going on the day of the match and coming back the same day but the eVisa system won’t accept that it is possible to visit Baku for a football match and return the same day…I’m stuck!!!
Your best bet is to contact a business that helps with visas. They can be extortionate, but they can also get your visa expedited. Worth a shot if you’re really stuck.
Thanks for your advice
You could book a cheap hotel or something and cancel the booking later
This is the best advice. Book the cheapest hole in the suburbs of the city, and apply for a 24 hours visa. It doesn’t mean that you can’t return before your visa expires !
Good advice; all the hotels around Baku are expensive but I could book further afield
Canon fodder, I too have booked with Thomas Cook but was successful with my visa application. When it came to the question of where you are staying, I just put that I was not staying anywhere. Try that as it worked for me.
Thanks Gaz, see you next Wednesday!
You just put “transit” in that field in the visa application. That is the official advice and my visa has come through doing that. See you in Baku!
Thanks, that was the advice the embassy gave me too. I’m now just waiting for my application to be processed
Phone an embassy. There will be protocol.
Deary me….. Considering the drama surrounding the game if Azerbaijani fans do fill the stadium full then they might end up booing both Chelski & Arsenal throughout the game……… Not sure if such a thing has happened ever before!!!!
I genuinely wonder what Arsene would say about this. Both now and as a hypothetical if this happened on his watch.
Nothing that UEFA couldn’t strenously ignore, I assume.
UEFA just another 4 letter word.
All they care about is feathering their own nests how much they can make off of football.
“Not only that, Arsenal fans of long-standing have been refused entry into Azerbaijan because of their Armenian heritage.” This bit is awful and shows their double-standards. Hope it comes to light more in the media.
Speaking of which, the Beeb’s initial piece on Mkhitaryan’s decision was another sad yet-not-very-shocking example of how far that place has gone to the shitter.
BBC Breakfast did a better job with their report this morning. Better than SkySports lame and lazy attempt anyway.
It’s not a shame. A shame is if a freak storm closes UK airports so spurs and Liverpool fans can’t fly to Madrid.
This is no less than a disgrace
I’m flying to Tbilisi Tuesday and driving for 8hrs when I land at 4am Wed to make the final. I’m fortunate as I can afford it and have spare annual leave to sleep on Thursday, then enjoy Baku and Tbilisi before coming home. That said. All I’ve heard as a ST holder this season is how important the crowd is to success. The club could be chartering jets without allowing Thomas Cook to charge fans 30% profit margin for the opportunity to support our club. Also, if we’re running as a smart business, a couple of £m to have twice… Read more »
The more one reads about this the more detestable UEFA become. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is one of the more sensitive issues concerning so-called ‘de facto’ states known in the world. It seems esoteric but there would have been no shortage of people in the area and specialists warning against the pitfalls of hosting in Azerbaijan because of it. One does have to wonder about the motivations of UEFA to ignore the risks. Mkhitaryan probably made the right decision, but not playing must also come at a cost too when you think about who you are as one of the sole… Read more »
Even those 3000 sold tickets should stay home. Both sides. Only way to show those dumbasses that fans care.
In today’s blog arseblog quotes the equalgame initiative by UEFA and, aside from the Miki related stuff, I couldn’t help but notice how UEFA have failed in their ‘respect for the environment’ part of the statement – how much impact will there be on the environment hosting the final in Baku? It is ridiculously difficult to get to and a long way to go – carbon footprint mean anything UEFA?
UEFA IS JUST WICKED.
Ridiculous to see how Arsenal and British media dramatize Mchtirian issue when Azerbaijan side send letter to Uefa and Arsenal that Baku will provide full security for him since he is not the first Armenian sportsman to come to Baku. During European Games Armenian team came to Baku won medals heard their anthem in our stadiums were presented medals by President himself. Now when Mchtirian himself opted not to come and it was announced via arsenal webpage that it was his decision why to continue this black PR around Azerbaijan. Moreover, who would know that to London clubs will win.… Read more »