Wednesday 16 October 2019

Koscielny questions Baku final

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley
Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley

Sam Dean

Laurent Koscielny has said Uefa should not be holding the Europa League final in Baku, given the political disputes that will prevent Henrikh Mkhitaryan from travelling with the Arsenal squad to the Azerbaijan capital next week.

Arsenal confirmed yesterday that Mkhitaryan will not be playing in the final against Chelsea because of safety fears. There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan because of a conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Koscielny, the Arsenal captain, told BBC Radio 5 Live that countries with such conflicts should not be able to host finals. "I am not very happy," he said. "When one country has a problem with another they should not give the final to that country. We want to have Micki with us, he is important."

Mkhitaryan spoke yesterday of his "hurt" at missing the match, which will determine whether Arsenal qualify for next season's Champions League. "We had to take the tough decision for me not to travel to the final," he said.

"It's the kind of game that does not come along very often and, I admit, it hurts a lot to miss it."

The Azerbaijan FA said it had provided "all the necessary guarantees required by Uefa to ensure the safety" of the player.

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