Mkhitaryan Will Not Be Travelling To Baku For Europa League Final
Armenians are not allowed to enter Azerbaijan because of the long-running conflict between the two countries, who have had no relations since the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1994.
It was hoped that a solution would be find for the Armenia skipper to enter the country, with UEFA saying they would support Arsenal if they looked to secure an exemption visa.
However, Arsenal have now released a statement confirming that their No.7 will not travel to Baku for the all-English final after speaking with the player and his family.
“We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea,” a statement on the official Arsenal website said.
“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.”
Mkhitaryan, meanwhile, has expressed his disappointment at the shambles of a situation and says his omission “hurts me a lot”.
Arsenal were paired against Azerbaijan champions Qarabag in the group stage draw and Mkhitaryan himself made the call to not make the trip over security fears in October.
Prior to this, he didn’t travel to Azerbaijan three years back when Dortmund face Gabala in the Europa League group. stage – with BVB electing to leave him out of the squad.
Tahir Taghizadeh, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, had previously guaranteed Mkhitaryan’s safety in Baku and urged him to make the trip for this game but Arsenal will now be without the former Manchester United man for the showpiece.
It’s also emerged that some British-Armenian season ticket holders are being refused entry into the country for the final, with Arsenal currently speaking with the Foreign Office about the situation.