Football

Arsenal's Mkhitaryan To Miss Europa League Final Due To Safety Concerns

Arsenal's Mkhitaryan To Miss Europa League Final Due To Safety Concerns

Arsenal have announced that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss next week's Europa League final against Chelsea due to concerns for his safety should he travel to Azerbaijan.

Those concerns arise from a conflict between Mkhitaryan's native Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Speaking to Sky Sports News on Monday, Tahir Taghizadeh, the Azerbaijan ambassador to the UK, assured the 30-year-old's safety.

"His problem is that he has visited a military occupied portion of Azerbaijan which in doing so without permission from Azerbaijani government," explained Taghizadeh.

This entails consequences including blacklisted by the government. But he will be able to have security and safety guarantees.

My message to Mkhitaryan would be: you're a footballer, you want to play football? Go to Baku you are safe there, if you want to play the issue then that's a different story.

However, in a statement released on Tuesday, Arsenal said that Mkhitaryan will not be part of the group which goes to Baku.

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"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," said the club.

"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."

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PJ Browne
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