‘Absolute disgrace!!’: Arsenal legend Ian Wright slams UEFA as club confirm Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss Europa League final due to safety concerns… as fans call on team to win trophy for the Armenian
- Arsenal confirm Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel to Baku for next week’s final
- Gunners play Chelsea in the Europa League final at Olympic Stadium on May 29
- There are ongoing tensions between Mkhitaryan’s Armenia and Azerbaijan
- Former Gunners striker Ian Wright was heavily critical of UEFA on Tuesday
- Arsenal fans have slammed UEFA and vowed to win the trophy for Mkhitaryan
Arsenal legend Ian Wright has hit out at UEFA after it was confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the Europa League final due to concerns for his safety.
Armenia captain Mkhitaryan had been assured by UEFA that he would be safe during his stay in neighbouring Azerbaijan but Arsenal, who face London rivals Chelsea in the final, have concluded it wouldn’t be in the best interests of the rest of the squad to have him on the trip.
There are political tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Arsenal fans have been left fuming as Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the Europa League final
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright accused UEFA of not caring ‘about the fans or the players’
The former Arsenal striker, now a pundit, wrote on his Twitter page: ‘Absolute disgrace from @UEFA. How is this allowed to happen?!
‘It’s all lip service!!! You don’t actually care about the fans or the players!!’
Arsenal fans echoed the sentiments shared by Wright with many left seriously bemused by the announcement Mkhitaryan was to be left out.
‘This is so shameful from UEFA absolutely ridiculous… sorry Mkhi bring it home for him lads,’ one fan tweeted.
Arsenal fans quickly hit out at UEFA that Mkhitaryan is unable to go and attend the game
UEFA received the brunt of the criticism for not moving the final away from Azerbaijan
Arsenal fans urged Mkhitaryan’s team-mates to win the final so he can go and lift the trophy
Ryan, a furious Arsenal fan, added: ‘UEFA is a disgrace. I really don’t even feel like supporting this final.
‘Unfortunately my love for Arsenal is bigger than my hate for UEFA, they can do whatever they want.
‘Hope we’ll bring it home for you and Rambo!’
The club’s announcement of the decision was met with widespread anger by supporters with Arsenal fan one supporter called Rachel tweeting: ‘I’m gutted for you Mkhi.
‘The boys will do you and us proud by winning the trophy. #GoonerFamily.’
One fan put out a simple rallying cry to everyone in the side for Baku, writing: ‘Let’s bring it back for Mkhi!!!’
Mkhitaryan took to his own Instagram account to write: ‘Having considered all the current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League final.
News of his absence for the final against Chelsea was met by a rallying cry from Arsenal fans
Fans felt the situation was preposterous that a footballer ‘deserves this kind of treatment’
He will watch on from London as Unai Emery’s side look to beat local rivals Chelsea in Baku
‘It‘s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often for us players and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it. I will be cheering my teammates on! Let‘s bring it home.’
WHAT IS THE ISSUE BETWEEN AZERBAIJAN AND ARMENIA?
Since 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh has existed in a tense limbo.
HOW BIG IS THE AREA?
This mountainous region of Azerbaijan, with about 150,000 residents in an area of 12,000 square kilometers has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces and the Armenian military since the end of a full-scale war that killed about 30,000 and displaced an estimated 1 million.
WHEN DID IT START?
Long-simmering tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azeris began boiling over as the Soviet Union frayed in its final years. Once the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the republics became independent nations, war broke out. A 1994 cease-fire left Armenian and Azerbaijani forces facing each other across a demilitarized zone, where clashes were frequently reported.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE?
International mediation efforts to determine the region’s final status have brought little visible progress. The unresolved conflict has been an economic blow to Armenia because Turkey has closed its border with Armenia, leaving the country with open borders only with Georgia and Iran.
It comes despite assurances from the Azerbaijan Football Association that Mkhitaryan would be free to play in the final at Baku’s Olympic Stadium.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have had no diplomatic relations since the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which ended in 1994, and Mkhitaryan missed the Gunners’ Europa League qualifier against Qarabag in Baku in October over safety fears.
AFFA general secretary Elkhan Mammadov confirmed to Sportsmail last week that all necessary documentation had been filed to allow Mkhitaryan into the country and insisted that politics and sport should remain separate.
But Arsenal have decided the player will not travel due to ongoing safety concerns.
An Arsenal statement released on Tuesday read: ‘We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.
‘We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation. Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.
‘We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.
‘Micki will continue to be part of our preparations until we depart for Baku at the weekend.’