The location of Wednesday’s Europa League final has been a consistent point of controversy. The teams were only allocated 17% of the stadium’s tickets and fans have had huge difficulty travelling to Azerbaijan.
It was one of the big talking points on the latest episode of the Fixture In Focus podcast, which looked at both of this week’s European finals. Regular co-host Chris McMullan said; “I get the need to bring these things around. And I get the need for the Super Cup to go to these smaller cities and obviously Baku has built the biggest stadium…but I still don’t understand why it needs to be in Baku.”
And then there is the issue of Henrikh Mkhitaryan being unable to play because of local politics. If Eden Hazard were unable to play in this match, you get the feeling that there would be a lot more pressure to change venues. Arsenal would probably be more firm about it too if their place in the Champions League did not ride on the result.
“I do wonder if Arsenal weren’t in the position if winning this game got them into the Champions League they might be a little bit firmer on this. Whereas at the moment, it is such a big game for their near future that they really have to be careful,” Chris continued.
The fact is that the club need to win this game in order to avoid a third successive year outside of the Champions League, whereas Chelsea have already qualified by finishing inside the top four. Nonetheless, surely the principle should matter more than financial rewards.
To listen to the podcast in full, click on this link (for Baku discussion go to 30:40), or use the player below…