UEFA Europa League
Europa League final Baku Olympic Stadium

It was recently revealed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would not be travelling with the Arsenal squad for the Europa League final vs Chelsea next week.

The final will be played in Azerbaijan and the eastern European country has political tensions with Armenia.

And Henrikh Mkhitaryan happens to be an Armenian international.

Even though every possible assurance was given to the midfielder but he eventually decided that it would be safe for him and his family if he did not make the trip to Baku for the Europa League final.

And this decision has not gone down too well with a number of people and organizations.

UEFA released a statement in which they marked out the decision of Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a personal one following which Azerbaijan’s UK ambassador claimed the Armenian has made a political statement by choosing not to play vs Chelsea.

“Our reaction? The right word would be disappointment,” Azerbaijan’s UK ambassador Tahir Taghizade told talkSPORT.

“Obviously that’s his decision – his, his family’s and the club’s – but we are disappointed in it. We did our utmost to assure his safety would be guaranteed and the safety of anybody travelling to Baku, as well as the fans, team crews and other players.

“Do I think he is making a political statement? I am afraid so. Honestly, there is a concern here that what Mkhitaryan has done is not connected to his ethnicity or anything he’s doing as a pro footballer, but there is an issue.

“He has visited Nagorno-Karabakh, an occupied portion of Azerbaijan, at least once and that was an unsanctioned visit.

“Those people are usually black-listed in Azerbaijan, which means they are not able to get a visa or travel to Azerbaijan. But in this case, Mkhitaryan’s case has been settled and there is no issue whatsoever.

“There is absolutely no problem for Azerbaijan to receive Mkhitaryan and to provide for his physical safety and security. His physical safety is assured by every word I say.

“It’s ultimately his decision, but if we are looking for reasons to justify a decision that may be longer in the making, that’s something different.”

And now the decision of Henrikh Mkhitaryan has taken a new turn after British MP Tom Watson claimed that this was a scandal.

“It is a scandal that Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the match of a lifetime next week because he is from Armenia and he fears for his safety at the Europa League final in Baku,” said Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party(as reported).

“It’s also a scandal that Arsenal fans with Armenian names are being denied visas to Azerbaijan. It shows a deeply ugly side to the beautiful game and is completely unacceptable.

“Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you are from or how you play

“Countries that force players to choose between their sport and their safety, and discriminate against travelling fans, must not be allowed to host future events.”

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