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UEFA’s ignorance towards a political issue could cost Arsenal Europa League success

The Gunners are set to be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan for their Europa League final

Football and politics mixing is never a pretty sight.

Arsenal’s impressive Europa League campaign has taken them all the way to the final.

The Gunners will meet Chelsea in the final at the end of May, as Unai Emery hopes to add a fourth Europa League to his CV.


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The Spaniard knows a thing or two about this competition

Getty Images - Getty
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The Spaniard knows a thing or two about this competition

Unfortunately for Arsenal, they are set to go into the showdown with the Blues at a significant disadvantage.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s involvement in the final has been cast in doubt.

With the final taking place in the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Arsenal man could be forced to watch on from home because of a European ruling that UEFA failed to acknowledge.

One of the Arsenal’s highest-paid players might not feature in their most important game of the season

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One of the Arsenal’s highest-paid players might not feature in their most important game of the season

Strained diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, down to an ongoing conflict, has caused tensions between the two nations to rise.

The dispute has led to Azerbaijan banning Armenians from entering the country.

Mkhitaryan would only be allowed access to the country should UEFA obtain a special visa to grant the Armenian ability to travel.

Mkhitaryan has had an inconsistent campaign but his quality is there for all to see

Reuters
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Mkhitaryan has had an inconsistent campaign but his quality is there for all to see

This is not the first occasion where Mkhitaryan has found himself in such a position.

During his time with Borussia Dortmund, the playmaker was omitted from Thomas Tuchel’s squad to play Azerbaijani club Gabala in 2015.

Mkhitaryan was told he would receive a visa upon landing in the country, however Dortmund decided to leave him at home after security concerns.

Dortmund still managed a 3-1 without their talisman

EPA
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Dortmund still managed a 3-1 without their talisman

Although an isolated political problem and something that is out of UEFA’s control, they have still played their part in this.

When deciding upon a suitable venue for the final, it seems bizarre to award it to Azerbaijan with the knowledge that this might occur.

European football’s governing body simply discounted the possibility of this scenario occurring, especially with such a high-profile club like Arsenal.

The Olympic stadium in Baku will host the final

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The Olympic stadium in Baku will host the final

Arsenal felt aggrieved by UEFA’s shambolic cup-tied ruling that meant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ineligible for selection in the tournament last season.

Although this latest blunder isn’t their sole responsibility, UEFA would have been left red-faced by the way this has panned out.

The Gunners are likely to be without one of their highest earners for their most important game of the season.



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