Tensions high, both clubs return tickets, ahead of Europa League Final

The Europa League final isn't until next week Wednesday but there is a tonne of controversy already.
 
The finals will be held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Without getting too much into the politics of the country, it's important to note that Azerbaijan and Armenia are not on good terms. They have no diplomatic relations. Arsenal, one of the clubs in the finals, has an Armenian player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He had already missed Arsenal's opener this season because it was played in Azerbaijan. While Azerbaijani authorities have said that Mkhitaryan will be allowed in the country, Arsenal isn't satisfied with how UEFA would guarantee his safety.
 
Arsenal knows he is an asset to them, since he won the Europa League finals with Manchester United in 2017. But so far it seems as if Mkhitaryan will have to sit out the finals, which is arguably Arsenal's most important game in in over a decade.
 
To make matters worse for Arsenal, their goalkeeper Petr Cech, who left Chelsea for Arsenal in 2015 for a fee of £10 million, is being linked by his former club. While his goal keeping days would be over, he is rumoured to be joining the Blues as a sporting director.
 
He has since come out saying that he will make his decision after the Europa League match. "Despite the news today as I had already said to everybody before, I'll make decision about my future after the last game. Now my sole focus is to win the EL with @Arsenal," he tweeted a few when the news of his tentative return to Chelsea broke. While Arsenal's manager Unai Emery believes Cech's interest is with Arsenal, I hope Cech knows he will be side-eyed globally for every defensive error he makes that goes in Chelsea's favour in the match. 
 
In more wide-scale drama, both Chelsea and Arsenal have returned some of their tickets. This is a complete turnaround from last week, when their fans were fuming at the ticket allocations. The stadium in Baku holds 68,000 people but Chelsea and Arsenal fans were only allocated 6000 tickets each.
 
 
It's since been reported that both teams have returned most of their allotted tickets .
 
"Arsenal and Chelsea have returned over half of their combined allocation of 12,000 tickets for next week's Europa League final due to the difficulty and great expense for fans travelling to Azerbaijan," AFP reported. "Arsenal had initially complained over their small allocation, but confirmed to AFP that they have returned 2,200 tickets for the Gunners' first European final in 13 years. AFP understands that Chelsea have sold just 2,000 of their 6,000 allocation."

With so much riding on this match for both teams, it is understandable why tensions are so high. UEFA is bent on having the match played in Baku, where it says there is a high demand for the tickets by locals (including the clubs' leftovers), so we'll just have to see how it all plays out.
 
--Trevann Hamilton

 





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