Any final of any kind deserves to be attended by the fans, more so than any executive or friend of a friend from a big money sponsor. We’re going to get that out of the way early on, because let’s face it, there’s a lot to get to with this story.
If you haven’t heard by now Arsenal and Chelsea are going to be squaring off in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday, and they’ll be doing so in the city of Baku in Azerbaijan. We’re going to tell you why that’s a bad idea.
First of all, as reported by Mirror, one of Arsenal’s players doesn’t feel safe in heading over there. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is Armenian and due to the ongoing conflict between his country and Azerbaijan, he didn’t feel like he would be able to make the journey over and play without feeling a great sense of anxiety and dread about his safety. That, in itself, should’ve been enough to get the game moved to a different location.
Not good enough
Then, as reported by BBC due to Chelsea not being all too happy about it, it is unbelievably difficult for fans of both teams to get to Baku in the first place. There are very few direct flights, the hotels are unbelievably expensive, and it’s just generally a bit of a pain to try and make it there both in a logical way and in a way that is going to make the visit safe for the fans.
Then, you’ve got the fact that Arsenal and Chelsea fans were only given 6,000 tickets each for the game itself. This draws us back to the point we made at the top, which is that we can’t wrap our head around the logic of UEFA here. We’ve always known they were a little bit shady because it’s virtually impossible to avoid that fact, but they’re taking things to the next level here. How dare they shun the fans in such a manner that will, of course, almost certainly rule Baku out of hosting big events like this in the future. If it doesn’t, then that’s a joke in itself.
All of this was initially being done for us to say that we want the fans to go out there and have a great time, but we aren’t even sure how many are going to be going out there in the first place. It doesn’t sound like all too many are going to make the trip from either side, and we can’t exactly say that we blame them for that. They can just sit back and watch it on television in the safety of their own homes, and to be perfectly honest, we feel like this game probably should’ve been boycotted altogether when you really think about it.
We just hope there are lessons to be learned from this. We’ll have more to say on the final itself in a few days, but for now, we just want to voice our outrage at the situation.