Following Arsenal’s announcement that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel to Baku for the Europa League final, UEFA have insisted that the Armenian’s absence is due to a ‘personal decision’ that they ‘respect’.
In a statement released this afternoon, they say:
Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the players safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities the country. As a result of these guarantees, a comprehensive security plan was developed and given to the club. While the club acknowledges the efforts that UEFA and the Azeri government have gone to in this manner, we respect the personal decision not to travel with the player.
It overlooks their role in this, in typical style they’ve batted away the responsibility to the player.
The fact is that holding a final in a location where any player on any team might be excluded for political reasons, or because they fear for their own safety – and by extension the safety of teammates and staff – is simply wrong on every level.
This is not on Arsenal, it’s not on Mkhitaryan, it’s 100% on UEFA.