Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan to miss Europa League final over safety fears
Arsenal’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss
the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku amid fears
over his safety.
Mkhitaryan’s well-being was a concern for Arsenal due to
the tense political dispute between Armenia and final hosts
The Premier League club have decided against Mkhitaryan
travelling with the rest of Unai Emery’s squad for next
“We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh
Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our
UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea,” an Arsenal
statement announced on Tuesday.
“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
Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizadeh, had
insisted Mkhitaryan would be free from any threat of
violence, but it was reported the star didn’t believe he
would be safe on the pitch.
“Having considered all the current options, we had to take
the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to
the UEL Final against Chelsea,” Mkhitaryan tweeted.
“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.”
UEFA, European football’s governing body, insisted they had
done all they could to ensure Mkhitaryan’s safety in Baku.
“Working alongside Arsenal FC, UEFA sought and received
assurances regarding the player’s safety in Azerbaijan from
the highest authorities in the country,” a UEFA statement
“As a result of these guarantees, a comprehensive security
plan was developed and given to the club.
“While the club acknowledges the efforts that UEFA and the
Azeri government have gone to in this matter, we respect
the personal decision not to travel with the player.”
Mkhitaryan had featured in 11 games during the Europa
League campaign and his absence will be a big blow as
Arsenal look for the victory they need to qualify for next
season’s Champions League.
“We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns
about this situation,” the Arsenal statement added.
“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
“Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this
is a big loss for us from a team perspective.”
Armenia captain Mkhitaryan skipped the Gunners’ Europa
League fixture against Qarabag in October because of
tensions caused by a dispute over the Nagorny Karabakh
Azerbaijan and Armenia have feuded over Nagorny
Karabakh since Armenian separatists seized the territory in
a war that claimed about 30,000 lives in the early 1990s.
A ceasefire was agreed in 1994 but the two countries
remain locked in a bitter dispute with frequent exchanges of
fire, and tensions are such that Mkhitaryan also did not
travel to Azerbaijan with former club Borussia Dortmund for
a Europa League match against Galaba FK in 2015.