Arsenal are ‘very sad’ Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the Europa League final.
The Gunners are set to face London rivals Chelsea in Baku but the Armenian midfielder will not travel to Azerbaijan due to ongoing political unrest between the two nations.
It means they will be without one of their key playmakers in their biggest match of the season so far.
Arsenal confirmed the 30-year-old star will miss out on the showpiece event.
A statement read: “We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea.
“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.”
“If appropriate security guarantees were given from the Azerbaijani side that would satisfy both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and his team, the Foreign Ministry would not object to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s participation in the upcoming game in Baku,” the press secretary to the Armenian Foreign Ministry is reported as adding.
“We would welcome if the Azerbaijani side were true to the principle that sport is above politics. Moreover, manifestations of racism and xenophobia in sport should not take place. In this regard, the refusal of Azerbaijan to provide such guarantees and a ban on the entry of alleged fans of Armenian origin is nothing but a new manifestation of racism, and this calls into question the holding of similar international events in Azerbaijan.
— Henrikh Mkhitaryan (@HenrikhMkh) May 21, 2019
“With this game, Azerbaijan had the opportunity to show how real it is to prepare the peoples for peace, but we not only did not see any contribution in this direction, but also witnessed new racist manifestations. Naturally, from our side this circumstance will be announced before our international partners.”
The breakdown of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan concerns the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which saw the two countries at war between 1988 and 1994.
Despite a ceasefire, no permanent peaceful resolution has been reached and hostilities still continue in the region.
UEFA have come under fire for choosing to host the final in a nation where a player’s safety could not be guaranteed.
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