herald

Thursday 22 August 2019

UEFA call on Arsenal for a 'joint effort'

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan

UEFA has called for a "joint effort" with Arsenal to help fans get to the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku.

The London rivals meet in Azerbaijan's capital on May 29 - but the decision to host the game in Baku's Olympic Stadium has thrown up plenty of issues.

Premier League outfits Arsenal and Chelsea are angry at only being given 6,000 tickets each for a 70,000-capacity stadium.

UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti has written to Arsenal, saying: "I confirm our availability to work with you in order to find helpful solutions for your fans."

Travel to Baku is also proving hard for those who have qualified for a match ticket, with fans from London facing a 2,5000-mile round trip.

Arsenal are also talking to the Foreign Office after season-ticket holders with dual UK and Armenian citizenship were denied visas to visit Baku because of tensions with neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Gunners midfielder and Armenia captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed the Europa League group game against Qarabag in Baku earlier this season because of the issue.

Arsenal are working with UEFA to ensure safety measures are put in place to allow Mkhitaryan (30) to travel for the final as part of Unai Emery's squad.

UEFA also defended the decision to award the showpiece final to Baku.

Marchetti's letter added: "It goes without saying that an all-English final played by two London teams was not a very predictable event at the time of the appointment. This has added significant difficulties to the event logistics.

"We are really sorry for the problems that your and Chelsea's fans are encountering trying to organise their journey to Baku.

"Our experts are keenly working on this matter with a view to help find cheaper solutions for fans. We would welcome a joint effort with your club in this respect."

Governing body UEFA also highlighted the logistical issues taken into consideration when awarding a final to a host city, stressing "mobility and accommodation are obviously key criteria".

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