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Note to UEFA: Azerbaijan is not in Europe

Why is the Europa League Final being played in Asia?

Azerbaijan’s Capital Baku Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Getty Images

Back in September, I wrote an article entitled, Arsenal have a Qarabag problem. The story focused on why Henrikh Mkhitaryan was unable to travel with his teammates to a match versus Azerbaijani side Qarabag. An ongoing conflict between the neighboring nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan made it problematic for Mkhitaryan to travel to the area.

Eight months ago it wasn’t seen as that big of an issue, as it was just one match versus a team that Arsenal would have no trouble defeating. Mkhitaryan remained in London and the Gunners won the match easily and without incident. The only possible problem after that would be down the road, in May of 2019. That’s because the geniuses at UEFA had scheduled the Europa League Final for the very non-European city of Baku, Azerbaijan.

Well, here it is eight months later, and Arsenal are in the finals. Mkhitaryan is still Armenian and remains an Arsenal player. Latest reports are that UEFA and Arsenal are discussing the issue and attempting to work out a solution so that the Armenian can take part in the match.

The real question for UEFA is why a European championship game is being playing in a country NOT in Europe. Take a look at the following article I found from December 2017 and you’ll see further proof why this final in Baku is a complete joke: Europe’s Map Is Redrawn As Azerbaijan Goes East.

The fans are not stupid. Many have been asking how this final got scheduled in Azerbaijan.

Here are some other reasons that holding the final in Baku is a mistake:

  • How could UEFA schedule an important match in a country that does not allow certain people to enter? Mkhitaryan is a citizen of Armenia as well as a part of Unai Emery’s Arsenal squad. He has nothing to do with the ongoing conflict between the two nations, yet he and Arsenal are being punished. Even if Mkhitaryan is granted a visa, there will still be a security concern for the player and his teammates.
  • Azerbaijan is a corrupt country with many human rights violations.
  • England’s Foreign Office has issued a terror warning to fans travelling to the final.
  • Both of this year’s Europa League finalists are from London. Baku is over 2500 miles away and Chelsea and Arsenal have each been given a paltry amount of tickets for their own fans. Who the hell is going to be in the stands? The atmosphere is going to be ruined by staging this match in another continent.
  • Azerbaijan has little if any football history and success.
  • Azerbaijan has been trying to position itself as a European nation, going so far as to host the 2015 European Games (a hastily organized second-tier competition of Olympic sports designed to, in part, make people think Azerbaijan and Belarus (host of this year’s games) are in Europe) , but the reality is that it is in Asia.

Hopefully the match will proceed without incident for the fans and the players. UEFA, meanwhile, needs to learn geography.