UEFA plan to block Arsenal and fans from showing support for Mkhitaryan in Europa League final clash

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Arsenal players were considering showing support for the absent Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the Europa League final on Wednesday, but they will be blocked in their plans by UEFA.

Mkhitaryan has decided not to travel to the final in Baku, Azerbaijan as he does not feel safe in the country where Armenian citizens are not permitted to travel.

Special permission was given to the Gunners midfielder and guarantees were given about his safety, but Mkhitaryan does not feel comfortable in making the trip.

In his absence, his team-mates were considering wearing shirts with his name on the back as they warmed up for the match against Chelsea, although UEFA will not let them do so, reports the Daily Mail.

Any kit worn before, during or after the match in the Azerbaijani capital will need to be approved by UEFA and they will not be willing to sign off on anything that could cause unrest of hostility in Baku, Arsenal staff also have similar concerns.

The tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia is based on the dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh mountains which has seen the two countries at war since 1988, although there has been a ceasefire since 1994.

A ban on Armenians entering Azerbaijan remains in place and that is why Mkhitaryan has declined the opportunity to play there, despite special dispensation being given.

Arsenal released a statement on the former Manchester United man’s non-involvement: ‘We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea.

‘We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.

‘We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation. Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.

‘We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.’

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