Arsenal demand UEFA explanation over Baku Europa League final
Arsenal say they are “bitterly disappointed” that only 6,000 of their travelling supporters can get tickets to watch the Europa League final with Chelsea in Baku and have urged UEFA to explain their decision to stage the showpiece event in Azerbaijan.
Arsenal face Chelsea at the Baku Olympic Stadium on May 29 with fans struggling to secure flights for the near 6,000-mile round trip as well as accommodation ahead of the club’s first European final in 13 years.
“Everyone at Arsenal is delighted to have reached the UEFA Europa League final and we are all very much looking forward to the match against Chelsea on Wednesday, May 29,” Arsenal said in a statement on Thursday.
“However, we are bitterly disappointed by the fact that due to transport limitations UEFA can only make a maximum of 6,000 tickets available to Arsenal for a stadium with a capacity of well over 60,000.
“Time will tell if it is even possible for 6,000 Arsenal fans to attend the match, given how extreme the travel challenges are.”
There are no direct scheduled flights between London and Baku in the week of the final, while prices of any remaining connecting flights have rocketed to well beyond 1,000 pounds ($1,282).
Arsenal said they have received many complaints from travelling fans who are desperate to attend the final.
“On behalf of our fans, we would like to understand the criteria by which venues are selected for finals, and also how supporter requirements are taken into account as part of this,” the club added.
“Moving forward we would urge UEFA to ensure that supporter logistics and requirements are a key part of any future decisions for final venues as what has happened this season is unacceptable, and cannot be repeated. We would be happy to join any future discussions to avoid this situation happening again.”
Arsenal’ Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a doubt for the final due to the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and his native Armenia, as was the case earlier in the competition when Arsenal beat Qarabag during the group stages.
REUTERS/Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis