Azerbaijani FA claims Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s Europa League final withdrawal is unwarranted
Arsenal attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan would have been able to play in the Europa League final, according to the Azerbaijani FA.
The Armenia international has pulled out of the game against Baku, which takes place in Baku next week, on security grounds.
But the Azerbaijani FA claims that decision was unwarranted and that they had offered all the necessary assurances needed for Mkhitaryan to travel to the final and play without being at risk.
A spokesperson for the AFFA said: “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.”
Travelling to Baku was deemed to be a security risk for Mkhitaryan because of of the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Arsenal announced earlier today that they, the player and his family had made a collective decision that he would not make the trip and would pull out of the final.
Mkhitaryan is to remain training with the squad up until they depart for Baku next week.