Mkhitaryan: Why won't the Arsenal midfielder play in the Europa League final?

Last updated at 12:18
Henrikh Mkhitaryan.Getty Images

Arsenal play Chelsea in the Europa League final on 29 May in Azerbaijan. But, star player Henrikh Mkhitaryan won't be with them.

The 30-year-old has pulled out of the squad because he is worried about his safety.

The game is being played in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku.

There have been long standing political tensions between Azerbaijan and Mkhitaryan's country of birth, Armenia.

"It hurts a lot to miss it", said Mkhitaryan.

Why are there tensions?
Henrikh-Mkhitaryan.Getty Images
Mkhitaryan is the captain of Armenia

Armenia and Azerbaijan don't talk to each other because of a long standing dispute over who owns the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

As a result of this conflict, Azerbaijan usually doesn't allow people from Armenia to enter the country.

Mhkitaryan is the Armenia captain and has concerns over his safety if he goes into Azerbaijan.

In October, he missed Arsenal's game against Azerbaijan champions, FK Qarabag.

He wants to play with the team, but he spoke with his family and decided not to go. It's a very, very personal decision and we need to respect him. I don't understand the political problems but I must respect his decision.

Unai Emery, Arsenal manager

In response to Mhkitaryan and Arsenal's decision, Uefa said: "Uefa sought and received assurances regarding the player's safety in Azerbaijan from the highest authorities in the country."

"As a result of these guarantees, a comprehensive security plan was developed and given to the club."

"While the club acknowledges the efforts that Uefa and the Azeri government have gone to in this matter, we respect the personal decision not to travel with the player."

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