“Mkhitaryan, a midfielder for Arsenal, announced on May 21 that he was skipping the May 29 UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea. While he did not explain his decision, he was reportedly concerned for his safety,” the report reads.
Furthermore, it was stated that “the issue drew worldwide attention to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and it also was a hot topic on Armenian Facebook,” with many prominent voices disagreeing with the player’s decision.
“The criticism directed to Azerbaijan and UEFA is incomprehensible. Mkhitaryan made the decision to not go by himself, they provided all the security guarantees,” Ervand Hakobyan, press secretary for the Boxing Federation of Armenia, wrote on his Facebook page.
Commenters on the post took both sides on the argument; one called Mkhitaryan a “coward” and pointed to Armenian wrestlers who went to Baku for tournaments, including the World Wrestling Championships in 2007 and the European Games in 2015.
“He is an internationally famous player for Arsenal and he is much more protected,” Araks Marutyan, a lecturer at the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture, told Eurasianet.
The UEFA Europa League final match between the English clubs Arsenal and Chelsea will take place on May 29 at the 68,000-seat Baku Olympic Stadium.
The match will start at 23:00 (GMT+4).