The selection of Baku as the host city for this year’s Europa League Final has been very controversial, especially in the last two weeks.
Fans, footballers, even the coaches from Arsenal and Chelsea have expressed their disapproval of Baku, Azerbaijan as the host of the UEFA Europa League Final.
And today in an interview with Der Spiegel, UEFA’s president Aleksander Ceferin has explained why they chose this city.
“Why? Because people live there. They love football,” he said.
“We have to develop football everywhere, not just in England and Germany.”
“The human rights situation is a problem. But there are issues with human rights in other European countries as well.”
He asked: “Do you think that fans in Baku don’t deserve to see live football because of that?”
“As far as I know, the clubs even returned some tickets because they couldn’t sell them all.”
“By the way, I was told that Easyjet raised airfare for the flights. Does anyone ask them? It’s always supposed to be UEFA’s fault,” he said.
“That’s populism. How about providing a constructive proposal, a fund, to which every club contributes to supporting fans traveling to the finals.”
He explained: “Of course, Baku is far away from London. But when we decided the location of the final, we couldn’t have known that both teams would be coming from England.”
Der Spiegel also asked about Arsenal’s decision to leave Armenian player Henrikh Mkhitaryan at home because of the political hostilities between his country and the Europa League host.
“Azerbaijan provided guarantees and a thorough security plan. In the end, it was the player’s decision not to travel,” Ceferin said.
“If we let tensions stop football, nothing can be organized any longer. We also organized a safe European Championship in France, when France was a target of terrorists.”
⌛️ Chelsea 🆚 Arsenal 😍
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 27, 2019