Here’s a thought. It strikes me that our outrage over Baku staging the Europa League final only arose because we’re in it. Will criticism of future host cities can continue throughout the summer? Gdansk hit the headlines with the murder of its’ mayor earlier this year (2020). Georgia, meanwhile, is “ranked as the third-most-homophobic country in the world” (2021). Plenty to get stuck into.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t believe the assurances given about his safety – and in a country which routinely breaks ceasefires, who can blame him – so misses out on what might be a highlight of his career. Petr Cech steadfastly refuses to comment on his future but found his plans splashed across the back pages. Fingers pointed at Chelski; the Russians won’t be happy until they’ve destroyed the EU and unsettled Arsenal ahead of the final.
The Cold War is back and it’s as mad as hell.
While all this was going on, Unai met the media. It’s “bad news” to lose Mkhitaryan, he opined, but he respected a “personal decision”. UEFA and the Azerbaijan FA used the same phrase. However, from them, it was altogether more sinister.
Emery refused to let UEFA off the hook, however. Moving the final remained their “responsibility” and he cited finals played in more accessible cities. Ever the optimist, he believes it will be a sellout 70,000 crowd, fuelling “a big atmosphere and…big emotion in the stadium”. Ticket sales at Arsenal must be better than widely reported.
Meanwhile, the players train “hard” or will be. Nine days without a break and I recall reading they fly to Azerbaijan this weekend. Linz, currently second in the Austrian Bundesliga, will provide some opposition in a behind-closed-doors friendly to keep up match sharpness but Emery underlined the focus is now on the final.
They Did The Skinhead Moonstomp On My Face
Having overseen a diplomatic response from the club, Vinai Venkatesham spoke on the affair at the FT Business of Football conference.
The Arsenal CEO…well, Vinai remained diplomatic. He’s jolly cross and intends on letting UEFA know it “face to face”. It’s a long way short of offering Aleksander Ceferin outside and nowhere near boycotting the final as some want Arsenal to do.
Laurent Koscielny voiced his disapproval more strongly:
I think Uefa needs to know about the different problems they can have with the politics in the country. When one country has a problem with another they should not give the final to that country.
The number of acceptable host cities plummets if we strictly apply that criteria.
In this sense, UEFA should be more careful and know where you choose the venue for a final. It is not possible that there are players who can not play for political reasons. I do not believe that things are done well when these kinds of circumstances occur.
But there’s little sympathy for fans:
This happens every year. A stadium in which holds 70,000 and there are only 6,000 tickets for each of the two clubs. In the end, it is they who have the way or the ways to carry out that distribution. I am more concerned about the fact that we lose a player because he can not enter that country than the ticket issue.
Ultimately, he must be more concerned with the Mkhitaryan situation; it directly affects the squad. However, a little more empathy with the travelling fans wouldn’t go amiss. Those who traverse this country and the continent deserve credit for their vocal support given some of the displays they witnessed this season.
And The Transfer Window Can Do One Until The 30th
Yes, the stories abound about a French whizzkid or despite having a budget of £40m, how we’re leading the way for a €75m-rated winger. You can escape the clickbait this summer, however, by not clicking on the stories. Just a thought.