Is the danger to Mkhitaryan the most important issue of Europa League Final?

Of all the controversies about the host city for the Europa League, the most serious issue is the safety of Henrikh Mikhitaryan. Nothing is more important then someone’s wellbeing, not how many tickets have been sold, not how many days it takes to get to Baku, not the fact that some fans might have to accept watching the final on television.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have had zero diplomatic relations since 1994. As the poster boy for Armenian sport our midfielder would be a huge safety risk for himself and the entire squad the moment he set foot in the country. It has led many to question how UEFA could even consider a nation hosting such a game if they cannot guarantee the safety of the players. The only sticky point is Azerbaijan have, whether you think it’s PR talk or not, given guarantees that the player would be safe to travel. If you believe that or not is another debate but officially there’s not much more UEFA can do then take them by their word.

Arsenal clearly didn’t believe in that statement back in October when for this very reason they left their playmaker back in London when visiting Qarabag. At the very least they didn’t feel the juice was worth the squeeze.
The same stance that Dortmund had in 2015 when they too decided not to seek international clearance to have him available for a fixture against Qabala.

On both occasions UEFA, like now, maintained he would get a Visa and would be safe to travel. Clearly behind the scenes, Arsenal and Dortmund were advised it’s more complex then that. Officially though, Azerbaijan are not discriminating anyone from taking part in this final which makes it hard for UEFA to step in. UEFA can’t change their minds on a venue based on political reasons as most countries in 2019 have disagreements with someone, not all cultures and beliefs are the same. How do you decide what is right/wrong ?

Remember there were MP’s in the UK who talked up the possibility of us boycotting the 2018 World Cup to spite Russia, in a move which had nothing to do with football. The World’s governing bodies want the world to all have access to sport. That might be motivated by money but if we get involved in a political debate then some places will never get to witness the beautiful game. Surely if we are arguing Baku can’t host the Europa League Final, it shouldn’t be a host city for Euro 2020? Then what do we do if another player is drawn to play in a country where his nation has issues with?

What about the next World Cup? Is it right that visiting fans can’t interact how they choose, due to human rights which might contradict their host’s beliefs? Once you get involved with others religions, politics, etc, it become dangerous. Sport was always about the opposite, about bringing all of us together. If we want to share the game with the world, we can’t lose sight of that.

Really interested in your thoughts gooners?

Dan Smith


  1. Leave him at home already! If he has to worry about being in a country where he’s not welcome, obviously he won’t have his best game there!
    Plus we won’t miss him, he’s given us nothing all season

  2. I really don’t understand why we are making so much fuss over this issue at this moment. I hope this will not encourage UEFA to be harsh/hard on us, I pray that this protests will not make the Host’s fans to be hostile and switch much of their support to Chelsea. We have made it to the final, I suggest we concentrate more on how we can clinch the elusive cup and grab Champions league ticket. Please let’s focus on the best strategy/technique that will deliver this cup, we need Stalling performance from the Mgr. and players come May 29th, 2019.

    1. What a shocking misreading of the vital importance of a level playing field for all. A complete ignorance of what actually matters and what, by comparison with the corrupt awarding of this final to this difficult to reach venue, is a trifling matter. LIFE WILL HOPEFULY TEACH YOU IN YEARS TO COME THAT NOTHING MATTERS IN FOOTBALL AS MUCH AS TRUTH AND HONESTY AND A FAIR DEAL FOR ALL!

  3. I think he shouldn’t travel with the squad as the players’ safety is important and secondly, him traveling will be a massive distraction for the team as a whole.

  4. Guys, its not like he is gonna have 2 assists in the final so please relax and leave him in london with Ozil

    1. And let Iwobi-san fulfill his destiny by channeling his inner Bergkamp in Baku

      Bergkamp and Iwobi have similar build, strength and close control

      Wanna see Iwobi do hold-up play and use his dribbling skill to break through like the Ox in the front

        1. Coz his name sounds like a Japanese name and his spirit in the field reflects a samurai spirit

          I always imagine Iwobi wears kimono and carries a katana to do a ritual before the football game

          1. I’ve only ever heard of that in the karate kid ? can just imagine you as Mr Miyagi now ?
            Well thank you, at least that cleared that up ?

            1. Iwobi -san is to do if a meme sent to him from some of his fans (I know I didn’t realise he had any either ) ,it’s to do with Star Wars -obi one kenobi …
              There’s a picture with him with a light Saber
              Think they might be abit loopy abit like some on here with their posts .

                1. He won’t even start so I doubt that ..
                  Hopefully we can do a swap with Zaha ,but I doubt palace would want iwobi ..

                2. Has anyone ever told you that you are in danger of becoming extremely boring.
                  If not, let me be the first.

  5. It’s not as though anyone is going to notice him on the pitch even if he does play

  6. We will need him.
    Especially with Ramsey out , who will press Jorginho outta the game? (Dont call Ozil)

  7. A venue that effectively bans any of our players- or Chelseas- for political reasons makes a farce of Uefa, not that they need any additional help in that direction. It was clearly a corruptly awarded final venue by a disgusting and morally bankrupt “organisation”. Of course this issue is, by FAR AND AWAY, the overriding matter in this farce. Integrity is ALWAYS far more important than any sport, however much we all adore that sport. Proper perspective in all things equals truth!

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