4 October: in politics v football, and why clubs should not ever trust Uefa


4 October 2018: FK Qarabağ Agdam 0 Arsenal 3. Europa League group  stage.

Mkhitaryan did not go to the match because of the political tensions, and Uefa were made aware of this situation – a relevant point given that the final was to be held in the same country.  Mikhitaryan is Armenian, FK Qarabag is an Azerbaijan club.  Tensions were rising between the countries and eventually resulted in a war in which Azerbaijan defeated Armenia with Armenia ceding land near Nagorno-Karabakh.

The finalwas also due to be played in Azerbaijan, and Uefa assured Arsenal that all steps would be taken to overcome the problem should Arsenal play in the final.  Arsenal did make the final but the assurances were mere words and nothing was done to help Arsenal, and so Mkhitaryan did not travel.

The failure of Uefa to deal with the issue was undoubtedly because of the contract Uefa had signed with the Azerbaijani Football Association and their wish not to pay a penalty for moving the event. The media failed to comment very much on Uefa’s inability to secure the safety of an individual player in an international game, nor the fact that Uefa’s contract, which did not allow it to move a game when a country was engaged in a war, was clearly inadequate.

Arsenal won their group stage with ease…


Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Arsenal 6 5 1 0 12 2 +10 16
2 Sporting CP 6 4 1 1 13 3 +10 13
3 Vorskla Poltava 6 1 0 5 4 13 −9 3
4 Qarabağ 6 1 0 5 2 13 −11 3


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *