Azerbaijan FA general secretary Elkhan Mammadov claims all the necessary documentation has been filed to allow Henrikh Mkhitaryan to play in the Europa League final.
Due to ongoing political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Arsenal fans of Armenian descent appeared set to miss out on the final in Baku later this month. Fans are struggling to get visas, and reports suggest the Gunners aren’t optimistic about receiving the necessary guarantees to allow Mkhitaryan to take part.
Mammadov insists the matter of the 30-year-old’s participation is already sorted, however.
“Certainly we have been discussing this issue,” Mammadov said (via Daily Mail). “Our state authorities have provided all of the guarantee letters to UEFA in accordance to the request from UEFA and Arsenal.
“Actually, this was a part of the process prioritised when Arsenal qualified that has been discussed with UEFA. All the necessary documentation and safety and security from the state has been provided. There will not be any problem for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to travel to Baku.”
“To be honest with you I am surprised this case is still ongoing in the press and the public and England because we are taking this as a done subject because we have provided all of the necessary documentation. Arsenal representatives have been in Baku they have spoken to us and UEFA about it.
“When they played Qarabag last year, the same guarantees had been implemented that time but the decision of the coach was not bring him because of injury or something. We have had Armenian athletes come to Baku for the last decade without issue.
“Sport is aside from politics, it is completely separate. That’s why for us Henrikh Mkhitaryan has all rights to play in the final.”
The problem is that it’s difficult to trust a member of the Azerbaijan FA on this issue. They’re the ones who applied to host the event in the first place, so the pressure is on them to present themselves to the world in the best light possible. Of course they’re going to say that there are no problems with Mkhitaryan playing.
As long as Arsenal aren’t providing any official confirmation of the decision themselves, we have to assume they still have reservations that haven’t been addressed. Otherwise, there would be no issue with them confirming Mkhitaryan’s participation. We’ll have to wait for them to publicly address Mammadov’s statement.