Armenian Mkhitaryan will not travel to Azerbaijan with the Arsenal squad due to fears over his safety and these fans believe drastic action is needed
An Arsenal supporter’s petition to have the Europa League final against Chelsea moved from Baku to Wembley has reached 13,000 signatures.
Gunners forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan chose to stay at home over fear for his safety because of the long-running conflict between his homeland Armenia and host country Azerbaijan.
Fans of both sides were already angry the May 29 final – a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT – is being played in a nation almost 3,000 miles away and that they would only be given an allocation of 6,000 tickets each.
The petition, which has amassed over 13,000 signatures so far, was set up by an Arsenal fan and has called on both Gunners and Chelsea supporters to sign.
It reads: “In addition to the numerous & unprecedented logistical issues that have precluded a majority of fans from both Arsenal & Chelsea from attending the Europa League Final, Uefa’s decision to host the match in Baku, Azerbaijan, is one that has forced Arsenal’s Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan to be left out of the North London side’s squad, for fear of bodily harm stemming from Armenia and Azerbaijan‘s century-long violent conflict.
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“This decision by UEFA is one that unabashedly prioritises profit over the sanctity of the beautiful game and the safety of its players; and while recognisably unrealistic, this petition calls for UEFA to recognise the nefarious effects of their decision, and sanction of move of the final from Baku to London’s Wembley Stadium.
“By signing this petition, you will be taking a stand in solidarity with the fans of Arsenal and Chelsea, Mkhitaryan, and the game of football itself.
The hashtag ‘BoycottBaku’ has been used a number of times since Arsenal announced that Mkhitaryan would not be travelling to the game.
Arsenal are now set to meet European football’s governing body with the club’s managing director Vinai Venkatesham calling the situation ‘unacceptable’.
He said: “I struggle to find words for how strongly I feel.
“We don’t feel he can travel and it’s extraordinarily sad. You don’t get a chance to play in major European finals often and Miki has had it taken away from him.
“We made our point clearly to Uefa – we have written to them. We will also sit down with them face to face after the final and express how it is unacceptable and how it can never happen again to Arsenal or anyone.”