Arsenal keep maintaining how unfair it is that Mkhitaryan will not be travelling to the Europa League Final, while UEFA insist his safety has been assured. Clearly the player and his family don’t believe in such assurances. While his club and the governing bodies’ PR department say the right things, as one of Armenians most profile sports people, he knows more then anyone if setting foot in Azerbaijan is dangerous or not. A professional athlete is not going to turn his back on a Final unless there is a very good reason.
Due to numerous issues, Arsenal and Chelsea have spent the last two weeks expressing their concerns about the location of next weeks fixture, yet all sides have known since September 2018 that Baku was hosting the event.
While some may have seen it as presumptuous, the two Londoners were favorites to win the competition way back in July. Could they not have waited sooner than after the semi finals to start questioning the decisions being made?
Arsenal knew gradually each round that there was going to be an issue based on their midfielder being from a country at conflict with the nation hosting the final.
While Stan Kroenke was never going to put the well-being of one of his employees before the chance to win Champions League money, if we truly cared about the player we could have put some pressure on months ago. Ask UEFA back in the summer, what are we meant to do if we get to the final? Instead of it being a problem you’re left with a couple of weeks to sort it out. Imagine the world wide pressure we could have put on UEFA if 6 months ago we threatened to boycott the tournament? Would sponsors like one of the most famous names in the whole event, pulling out for moral reasons?
Remember we pride ourselves as a club on doing things the right way. Yet in truth all we have done to support one of our own is to pay the situation lip service. I have listened to some gooners who, while accepting it’s wrong on a human level, feel it won’t affect us on the pitch, like that is all that matters to them. While I believe it will hurt Unai Emery to be minus an attacking option, this shouldn’t be a footballing debate. Someone is being prevented doing something he loves to do based on where he was born. What if half our squad were born in the same place?
This will also be one of the cities involved in the next Euros. Good job Armenia most likely won’t qualify. What if it was a Gabon native not allowed entry? I bet then gooners would want Arsenal to fight this harder?
What if Ozil felt it wasn’t safe to fly to Germany. Would that make more news because the player is more marketable? Because Germany is a bigger footballing nation would there be more pressure from the media for UEFA to only award places bidding rights if they can assure equal opportunities?
Whether you think he’s good enough or not. If you think he’s too inconsistent or not, should have nothing to do with the issue. Those who have that stance, I question if they understand what’s important. They should also look up the definition of supporter. Anyone who puts on the red and white crest we should back. At the moment one of our own is going through a horrible situation that he can’t control. He deserves our sympathy as much as if this were Lacazette. Our level of loyalty should not be measured on goals and assists.
3 years ago, Mkhitaryan scored in this European final for Man United against Ajax. Rightfully it was one of the proudest moments of his career. This time he won’t be allowed to match it or write his name into our proud history. All based on where he was born and political tensions he can’t impact.
For a player to miss a final in 2019 because of his origin taints this final, whoever wins it.