Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Henrikh Mkhitaryan 'hurt' to miss Europa League final after Arsenal confirm he will not travel due to safety concerns

The Armenia international will not play in Baku due to a dispute between his country and host nation Azerbaijan.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - August 18, 2018 Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - August 18, 2018 Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel with the Arsenal squad to Azerbaijan for the Europa League final because assurances over the Armenian's safety were not given.

Due to a dispute between the two countries, Arsenal said on Tuesday they had taken the decision to leave the Armenia international out of their travelling party for the May 29 final when the Gunners take on Premier League rivals Chelsea in Baku.

"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," the club said.

"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."

The 30-year-old former Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United midfielder has featured in 11 games to help the North London club reach their first European final since 2006.

The decision to hold the final in the Azerbaijani capital has angered Arsenal and Chelsea.

The London clubs were given 6,000 tickets each by Uefa, European football's governing body, for the match at the 68,700-capacity Olympic Stadium, more than 4,500 kilometres from the English capital.

Uefa said Baku's limited airport capacity was one reason for not reserving more tickets for travelling fans.

"Having considered all the current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the UEL Final against Chelsea," Mkhitaryan wrote on Twitter.

"It's the kind of game that doesn't come along very often for us players and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it. I will be cheering my teammates on! Let's bring it home, Arsenal".

After Arsenal's announcement, Azerbaijani authorities issued assurances that Mkhitaryan could play.

"In spite of the difficult relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mkhitaryan can play in the Europa League final in Baku," Azerbaijan's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Leyla Abdullayeva, told AFP.

"Armenian sports figures have already taken part in numerous major sporting events that Azerbaijan has welcomed previously. One shouldn't mix up sport and politics."

Updated: May 22, 2019 04:32 AM

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