UEFA and Azerbaijani MFA comment on Mkhitaryan’s upcoming departure to Azerbaijan
YEREVAN, AUGUST 31, ARMENPRESS. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s availability for Arsenal’s Europa League trip to Qarabag is in doubt due to tensions between his homeland of Armenia and Azerbaijan, ARMEN PRES reports, citing football365.com.
The Gunners have been drawn with Sporting Lisbon, Ukrainian side Vorskla and Azeri champions Qarabag in Group E.
Some potentially tricky games are compounded by questions over Mkhitaryan’s availability for the trip to Azerbaijan, which is also hosting the Europa League final in the capital of Baku.
Tensions continue between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, with a ceasefire declared in 1994 after fighting erupted several years earlier.
Those issues meant Mkhitaryan did not travel with Borussia Dortmund to a Europa League game against Gabala in October 2015, with the German club’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke citing “safety concerns”.
In relation to the situation surrounding Mkhitaryan, UEFA said in a statement to Press Association Sport: “It is a standard procedure for UEFA to send letters of support to associations, clubs or embassies in order to obtain visas for players in order to be able to travel to another country and play in UEFA competition matches.”
Arsenal was one of four British clubs in Friday’s group stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
Hikmet Hajiyev, spokesperson for Azerbaijani foreign ministry, also commented on the issue, “Clubs should decide themselves their list of footballers against Qarabag. Only after that we can return to this issue. If we are connected to this issue, we will discuss it then”, 1news.az quotes Hajiyev as saying.
Translated and edited by Tigran Sirekanyan