Football News

Uefa hit back at Arsenal & Chelsea complaints despite Europa League final venue’s unwanted record

By Harry Edwards

Published: 11:15, 16 June 2019

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has hit out at Arsenal and Chelsea for their complaints about the Europa League final.

Chelsea beat Arsenal 4-1 at the end of May to wrap up their second Europa League trophy, but the game was surrounded by pre-match controversy.

What were the problems with the Europa League final? Five things to know…

  1. The Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal was hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan.
  2. Fans of both clubs found it hard to reach Baku, a 5,000-mile journey from London.
  3. Arsenal also had to travel without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, due to tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  4. But Uefa’s president believes the two clubs didn’t help themselves with their complaints.
  5. Chelsea won the final, beating Arsenal 4-1.

The all-London final took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, and fans found it hard to make travel arrangements – with neither Chelsea nor Arsenal reportedly selling the full amount of their 6,000 tickets allocated. Given the stadium’s capacity for the final was 64,000 it meant percentage of ticket share for supporters was 19% making it the lowest figure in the last 15 years.

Uefa, who claimed 51,370 supporters, announced post-match they began an investigation into why the turnstiles were opened midway through the final to allow fans in without paying.

Arsenal also played the final without midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the Armenian fearing for his safety due to problems between his native country and Azerbaijan.

As a result, there was opposition to UEFA choosing Azerbaijan as their host country, with some calling for both teams to boycott the final. But Uefa president believes English clubs don’t help themselves in keeping themselves popular in European football.

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“Whenever we have English clubs, whenever we have complaints,” he said.

“You don’t help yourself in the popularity within European football with that. If somebody asks me why we played in Baku, I would say: People live there, homo sapiens live there.

“If we have two Azerbaijani teams playing in London nobody would complain. They would come and play without any problems. We decided a year and a half ago that we play in Baku which has a modern stadium of 70,000. I think there is only one stadium in England that is bigger.

“They had to watch the game at 11pm because of the time difference but nobody complained. We have to develop football everywhere not England, Germany only.”

Future Uefa final destinations

Just a few months after Uefa had to deal with two all-English finals in Baku and Madrid, the organisation will have one more on their hands.

The 2019 Uefa Super Cup will see Champions League winners Liverpool face off against Europa League champions Chelsea at Beşiktaş’ Vodafone Park in Istanbul – another potentially tricky situation for fans to deal with.

But the destination was confirmed long before its participants, with the host being selected as far back as September 2017 – as part of Uefa’s plans to take the game around Europe.

Uefa have also already agreed destinations for the 2020 editions of their tournament finals. The 2019/20 Champions League final will be held in Istanbul, this time at Turkey’s national Ataturk Olympic Stadium.

The 2019/20 Europa League final will see two teams travelling to Gdansk, Poland to play in the Stadion Energa Gdańsk, while the 2020 Super Cup will be held in Porto’s Estádio do Dragão.