Armenian footballer Henrikh Mkhitarian is expected to join his club Arsenal when the team face Chelsea on 29 May in the Azerbaijani capital Baku for the UEFA Europa League championship in an all-English final.
Various British media outlets reported that when asked about Mkhitarian, Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva said "many major sports events have been hosted in Azerbaijan, and Armenian athletes have taken part in them. Sports and politics are separate."
The match at Baku's 68,700-seat Olympic Stadium will mark the first time a European club competition final will be held in Azerbaijan.
Arsenal officials earlier said they were seeking guarantees from UEFA that Mkhitarian can travel there for the match. The Armenian star did not travel with Arsenal for a group-stage game in Azerbaijan earlier this season.
"Assurances were sought on this matter by UEFA and Arsenal FC, with the Azerbaijan Football Association confirming that there would be no problem for the player in question to enter and stay in Azerbaijan and that all necessary security measures would be in place," UEFA said in an e-mail comment.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Heinrick Mkhitariyan (archive picture)
The new president of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic brings in political rivals to key positions