Nacho Monreal has hit out at UEFA over their choice of venue for the Europa League final, after the news that Henrikh Mkhitaryan won’t be able to attend the fixture.
Arsenal announced this week that Mkhitaryan wouldn’t be travelling with the squad on Saturday when they travel to Azerbaijan for the Europa League final. Due to tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the player, his family and Arsenal decided it wasn’t safe for him to attend.
Monreal spoke to the media about the issue ahead of the final, admitting he’s very disappointed in the lack of thought that went into the event.
“It’s a very sad loss because I think you have to consider the players,” Monreal said. “In this sense, UEFA should be more careful and know where you choose a venue for a final. It is not possible that there are players who can not play for political reasons. I do not believe that things are done well when these kinds of circumstances occur.”
As Monreal went on to point out, this situation hasn’t exactly been sprung on UEFA from nowhere. It was clear from the start of the season that this would be a problem if Arsenal made the final, and that was only emphasised further when the Gunners faced this exact issue in the away game against Qarabag.
“It’s kind of sad,” the Spaniard continued. “It is news that we already knew since the group stage began. From that moment we already commented that in the event of reaching the final he would not be able to go because there are such differences between the two countries, Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
Nonetheless, UEFA didn’t consider the problem when they chose the venue, they didn’t consider it at the start of the season when they still had a year to make changes, and they didn’t make any attempt to resolve the issue when Mkhitaryan was forced to remain at home during the Europa League group stage.
Now, Arsenal have to exclude a player who appeared in every previous Europa League knockout round. A player who scored against Chelsea earlier this season, and bagged a goal in his last European final as well. All for reasons entirely unrelated to football.