Arsenal leaves out Mkhitaryan from Europa League final amid safety concerns
Armenian national Henrikh Mkhitaryan has chosen together with Arsenal not to attend the final match of the Europa League to be held in Baku, CNN reports.
The English club says Mkhitaryan was omitted from the final squad as his safety in Baku is a matter of concern. Mkhitaryan is also the captain of the Armenian football team.
Arsenal said it was “disappointed” by the absence of its main attacking midfielder in Baku, but added that the decision was made after discussions with him and his family. In a letter to UEFA, Arsenal expressed they are "deeply concerned" that the player is missing out on the final calling it “a big loss" for the team.
"Micki will continue to be part of our preparations until we depart for Baku at the weekend," the club stated.
On Twitter, Mkhitaryan said being left out of the final against Chelsea “hurt a lot."
UEFA said on May 10 that they did everything possible to ensure security of Mkhitaryan in Baku. “UEFA sought and received assurances regarding the player's safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in the country," the statement reads.
"While the club acknowledges the efforts that UEFA and the Azeri government have gone to in this matter, we respect the personal decision not to travel with the player."
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva has said that despite the tense relations with Armenia, Mkhitaryan can play in Baku.
"Sports and politics are separate," Abdullayeva told AP.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have no diplomatic ties due to the decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that left the region in “no war, no peace."
England's Arsenal and Chelsea clubs will compete in the Europa League final in Baku on May 29.
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