Laurent Koscielny says UEFA should not have given Azerbaijan the responsibility of hosting the Europa League final given the country has no diplomatic relations with another country within its jurisdiction.
Yesterday, Arsenal confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel to Baku for Wednesday’s final because the midfielder’s status as a high-profile Armenian could put him in danger. Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia continue to simmer due to a dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
UEFA responded by stating the decision was a ‘personal’ one and that a plan had been put in place to ensure the player’s stay in Azerbaijan was safe.
“I am not very happy,” club captain Koscielny told BBC 5Live at yesterday’s media day.
“First because we need to leave one player here, because he can’t play in the final.
“I think Uefa needs to know about the different problems they can have with the politics in the country. When one country has a problem with another they should not give the final to that country.
“For us it is difficult because we want to have Micki with us. He is an important player for us.”
Mkhitaryan took to social media to air his disappointment. Later in the day, managing director Vinai Venkatesham, speaking at the FT Business of Football summit expressed his annoyance and promised that the club would demand a face-to-face meeting with UEFA officials.
Earlier this week, the club and UEFA traded open letters which also tackled the ridiculous logistical issues that Arsenal and Chelsea fans are facing just to get to Baku.
“It is not our decision or Henrikh’s but one we made together,” he said.
“We don’t feel he can travel to a major European final and that’s extraordinarily sad. He has had that opportunity taken away from him, one that is a rare opportunity for any player.
“We’re losing the opportunity of having him to help us win a major trophy. It’s an extraordinary shame. All we can really do is make our point very clearly to Uefa. After the final we will explain to them why it’s unacceptable and must avoid it happening to Arsenal or any other club ever again.”