After the leadership of Arsenal soccer team requested security guarantees from Azerbaijan for its mid-fielder Armenian National Soccer team captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry on Friday assured that he can take part in the UEFA Europa League final in Baku, scheduled for May 29.
“Many major sports events have been hosted in Azerbaijan, and Armenian athletes have taken part in them,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva told The Associated Press. “Sports and politics are separate.”
Arsenal officials expressed concerns over the issue that Mkhitaryan might not be able to participate in the match against Chelsea due to the “tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
“The security of our footballers is a priority. We demand guarantees from the UEFA that Henrikh Mkhitaryans security will be ensured if he leaves for Baku to participate in Europa League match,” said a statement from Arsenal.
Last year, Mkhitaryan missed a match in Baku, because Azerbaijan did not guarantee his safety. Mkhitaryan is on Baku’s “black list” for visiting Artsakh.
Azerbaijan’s soccer authority also gave assurances Friday to the UEFA that Mkhitaryan would not have problems to travel to Baku, the UEFA told the Russian Tass news agency.