Arsenal Fans Stopped By Police In Baku For Wearing Henrikh Mkhitaryan Shirt
A clip of two Arsenal fans being stopped by Azerbaijan police for wearing a Henrikh Mkhitaryan shirt in Baku has emerged online.
Last week it was confirmed that Mkhitaryan would not be part of the Gunners' travelling squad for the Europa League final against Chelsea.
Armenians are not allowed to enter Azerbaijan because of the long-running conflict between the two countries, who have had no relations since the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1994.
Though they explored different options, after speaking with the player and his family, Arsenal decided against including him in their squad over fears for his safety.
And extraordinarily, things continue to be an absolute farce as a day before the game, two Gooners with 'Mkhitaryan #7' on the back of their shirts in Baku were stopped by local police for a chat.
UEFA insisted that Mkhitaryan would have perfectly safe in Azerbaijan.- joe north (@Joeynort) May 28, 2019
Less than a week later: Arsenal fans can't even walk down the streets in Baku whilst wearing Mkhitaryan shirts without being stopped by the police.
The planning of the final has been embarrassing #UEL
While they aren't heavy handed, it's a joke that we're even in a position where fans are stopped just for having one of their favourite players on the back of their shirts.
Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno branded the whole situation a "scandal" earlier this week in a strong interview.
"It's a scandal that he cannot play because of that, he works hard all season and cannot come to such a final for political reasons," he told Kicker.
"I'm just sorry for him [Mkhitaryan]."
Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka told media, including The Independent, that Mkhitaryan's omission has brought extra motivation for the players.
"Of course we are disappointed he's not here but I think we spoke a lot about Mkhitaryan, and a lot of political things, and it's time to speak about football," Xhaka said.
"He's very important for us, and we want to give him a trophy tomorrow."