Back in September I wrote an article for SB Nation entitled, Arsenal have a Qarabag problem. The story outlined how Arsenal’s Armenian player Henrikh Mkhitaryan was unable to travel with the team to a match versus Azerbaijani side Qarabag. An ongoing conflict between the neighboring nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan made it problematic for Mkhitaryan to travel to the area.
Eight months ago it wasn’t seen as that big of an issue as it was one match versus an inferior team. The Armenian did not travel with his side and Arsenal won the match easily and without incident. The only possible problem was down the road in May of 2019. That’s because the rocket scientists at UEFA had scheduled the Europa League Final for the very non European city of Baku, Azerbaijan.
Well here it is eight months later and Arsenal are in the finals. Mkhitaryan is still Armenian and still an Arsenal player. Latest reports are that UEFA and Arsenal are discussing the issue and attempting to work out a solution.
This blog post isn’t about this particular conflict or how it should be solved. What it is about is why the hell a European championship game is being playing in a country NOT in Europe. Read the following article I found from December 2017 and you’ll see further proof why this final in Baku is a complete joke: Europe’s Map Is Redrawn As Azerbaijan Goes East.
Here are some other reasons that holding the final in Baku is a mistake:
Azerbaijan is a corrupt country.
Both of this year’s Europa League finalists are from London. Baku is over 2500 miles away and Chelsea and Arsenal have each been given a paltry amount of tickets for their own fans. Who the hell is going to be in the stands? The atmosphere is going to be ruined by staging this match in another continent.
How can UEFA hold a major match in a country where some footballers are not allowed to enter and if doing so, could be in danger? Maybe next year they’ll consider Syria for the final…or Yemen. It’s ridiculous.
Azerbaijan has little if any football history and success.
Azerbaijan is in ASIA.
Thanks for listening.