Pathetic attempts from UEFA and AFFA calling out Arsenal smashed by Amnesty

The decision to withdraw Henrikh Mkhitaryan from the Arsenal squad to face Chelsea in the Europa League final being held in Baku, Azerbaijan, because the player’s safety cannot be guaranteed has resulted in a huge amount of anger aimed at Europe’s football governing body UEFA, but they have not taken the criticism lying down.

UEFA released a terse statement basically rejecting the accusations being laid at their door.

‘Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the player’s safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in 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 matter, we respect the personal decision not to travel with the player.’

So, they are basically saying that Arsenal received all the assurances they demanded and that Mkhitaryan would have been safe, in better words they are saying that Arsenal football club are misleading the public, that is how I read it.

Then the Azerbaijan football federation (AFFA) backed up UEFA with their own statement

“We are disappointed to see the statement from Arsenal that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with his team to Baku to participate at the UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea next Wednesday.

We very much regret this unwarranted decision taken, as we understand, collectively by Arsenal, the player and his family.

Whilst we recognise the right to make a personal decision not to travel, we would like to reiterate that as the host country Azerbaijan has provided all the necessary guarantees required by UEFA to ensure the personal safety of Mr Mkhitaryan.

There is no reason whatsoever to put in question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan. Over the past decade a large number of Armenian athletes have taken part in various international sports events in Azerbaijan without any issues.

Finally, we believe that this regretful decision will not affect in any manner the quality and the attraction of this great match. We look forward to welcoming both teams in Baku shortly.”

I love their use of the word unwarranted, which I shall come back to shortly.

But basically, as the UEFA statement clearly indicates, they are calling Arsenal liars, there is no other way to read it, they are saying that Mkhitaryan is safe, end of the story.

But there is one small tiny little problem for UEFA and the Azerbaijan football federation and that is called Amnesty International.

Now, remember that word unwarranted?

Read this statement from Amnesty and then ask yourself, is Arsenal fears for their players’ safety unwarranted.

“Fans will be glued to their TVs during this game, but we must ensure that Azerbaijan isn’t allowed to ‘sportswash’ its appalling human rights record as a result of the football fanfare.

“Azerbaijan is in the grip of a sinister human rights crackdown, with journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders being ruthlessly targeted. Unfair trials and smear campaigns remain commonplace.

“LGBT people have been arrested, and even people fleeing the country have been harassed and pressured to return.

“Fans, players and backroom staff can help prevent Azerbaijan’s likely attempt to sportswash its image by informing themselves about the human rights situation behind the glitzy facade of Wednesday’s match.

Wow, I have to say that the word “sinister” trumps the word “unwarranted” when you read that.

UEFA and AFFA can try and take the moral high ground all they want but they know, we know, Arsenal football club knows that Mkhitaryan’s safety could never ever be guaranteed in that country and Amnesty International absolute damning statement tells us exactly why.

It is a brutal regime with a horrendous human rights record and that is who UEFA chose to host a Europa Cup final and they have the cheek to call out Arsenal for doing the right thing by their player.

Those pathetic statements from UEFA and AFFA basically calling Arsenal liars have been truly smashed by the eye-opening statement from Amnesty.


  1. Most fans who have seen Mkhi play throughout the season wouldn’t want him to board the plane to Baku either.
    This does mean our bench would look something like this considering the rest of our squad:
    Cech Mustafi Lichsteiner Elneny Guendouzi Iwobi Nketiah

    1. He’d still be a decent option off the bench though. Ozil has been a ghost all season, but will probably start the final given there’s no Ramsey. When Ozil’s out of energy around the 55/60th min, who do we bring on to replace him? The ONLY option is Iwobi.

      I hope you’re right with Cech on the bench.

      My prediction for the final: 2-1 Arsenal win. Elneny 35 yard screamer in the dying seconds! One can dream!

    2. I was for cech starting, but after this Chelsea leak, I’d rather Leno. not because I think Cech is capable of throwing a game, but there’s just a clear conflict of interest now, and if we were to lose, Cech would automatically get some type of blame. I don’t think it was professional of Cech to be talking with other EPL clubs while he was still starting games for us either. Whenever the talks started, he had to know that it was very possible, and likely that Arsenal and Chelsea would meet in Europa.

  2. Mikhi hasn’t been great this season, but he does seem to have good moments coming off the bench. It’s not good for the club not to have him as an option, he has had impacts in big matches.

    UEFA should be roundly condemned, excoriated in fact. Having a cup final where Armenian-descended fans and players can’t go is ridiculous, putting players in danger is the highest stupidity and basically criminal neglect, and the claim that this will give the game new audiences is patently false–they already watch football there–the PR backlash will do far more damage to the brand and the sport than the marketing effort here could claim to win. Having the World Cup in a state that is listed as a state sponsor of terror isn’t that smart either.

    EUFA heads should roll here, not Saudi-style of course, but professionally they should be axed and this kind of situation should never happen again.

    Check Ian Wright’s twitter on this if you haven’t already, his comments are just what’s needed. People should make their anger known.

  3. “‘The lessons I learned at Arsenal helped me in so many ways, but it did mean I had to adapt when I left,’ he told the Telegraph.
    ‘The emphasis was different there. More about trying to find a better option. That was Arsenal’s way and it had worked for them well.
    ‘So, when I saw a run and heard a shout my instinct would be to play it. The boss [Klopp] hates that. He would say ‘I don’t watch you shooting all week [in training] to try to be Iniesta and thread a pass’.
    ‘He would scream at me ‘SHOOOOOT!’ It goes in or it misses but in his head it is, ‘So what? Mo and Sadio are running in’.’
    Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

    I seriously thought the era of pass and pass left with Wenger but no, all we do is bloody pass and pass and pass backwards, sideways, always trying to walk the ball into the net as if the opponents will just stand there without stopping us.

    1. Probably indelibly stamped in the playing DNA of many in the squad at the Emirates.

  4. I read there will be thousands of tickets returned to Uefa as Baku is a hard place to get to plus the 11pm kick off so in reality 2 teams will contest a European final in a half empty Olympic style stadium in the theme of a pre season friendly! Absolute Joke! Venue should have been switched to Wembley, The Aviva Stadium, Hampden Park or the Millennium stadium.

    1. Apparently Kev82, the alternative cities which applied to host the final were Istanbul and Seville.
      However money talks with UEFA, which needs a corruption investigation just like FIFA. The selection of Baku was farcical, to which playing such an important match in an empty stadium, will give added emphasis.

      1. It certainly does Ozziegunner ? it’s almost as comical as having the world cup in QATAR! A half . empty stadium hosting a major European final is an embarrassment and if nothing is done after the completion of the Europa League final then we’re gonna see more of the same in the future.. Seville would have been an ideal setting, the logical choice but Uefa don’t do logical.

  5. Oh my gosh can this Mkhitaryan drama stop already! He decided not to go, great! Why is it such a big deal? Did anyone really want him anywhere near the line up or bench on that day? I think not!

    1. QD, A great shame that you choose to ignore – or perhaps do not have the width of vision to see – what really matters. The immorality of awarding the final to this corrupt government of this corrupt and backward country is what ACTUALLY matters. Sigh!

  6. He probably won’t start the match, but he will be a nice addition of the bench, no one knows if that will be a match he will turn up. We all know how crucial Mkhi is whenever he turns up in a match, so even if does not play, I would have preferred him being in the squad fop the final.

    1. PGMOL Gunnerphilic, however, very good question, one I’ve been asking for the last ten years.

  7. Whether or not he deserves a place in the start eleven or even on the bench is irrelevant to what REALLY matters, which is morals and ethics. The decision to award the final to a vastly corrupt country and government is plain wrong. Badly wrong too and in fact corruptly made. I use my language with care and use “corrupt” correctly, though sadly!

    1. You’re absolutely right Jon, you don’t have to apologise for using the word “corrupt”. According to Amnesty International more than 150 people are being held against their will on politically motivated charges. Perfect partner for EUFA ?

  8. Google ‘straw man argument’, admin.

    You’re saying Mkhitaryan is not safe despite other Armenians having played safely in Azerbaijan, because of LGBT and free-speech related local aspects of intolerance. Nonsense.

    Mkhi made the decision based on his own (or his family/relatives) political position vis-a-vis Azerbaijan and Arsenal accepted it…

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