UEFA Speaks on Eligibility of Mhikitaryan For Europa League Match

Questions arose over Henrikh Mhikitaryan's possible availability for Arsenal's Europa League trip to Qarabag due to a diplomatic rift between his country and Azerbaijan.

The Gunners discovered their opponents in Friday's draw where they were placed in Pot One and handed Sporting Lisbon, Qarabag and Vorskla in Group E.

The development raised concern for Mhikitaryan who is an Armenian and since citizens of his country are banned from entering Azerbaijan, many wondered how it will eventually play out for him. Will he be allowed to travel or left out of the encounter(s) for security reasons?

The above question has been answered by the organizing body of the tournament in a statement issued shortly after the draw.

According to UEFA “It is a standard procedure for UEFA to send letters of support to associations, clubs or embassies in order to obtain visas for players in order to be able to travel to another country and play in UEFA competition matches.”

What this indicates is that Mhikitaryan will have no issues if he decides to fly into the country to represent Arsenal either in the group stage or in the final (that is the country where the winners will be crowned).

Nevertheless, I am of the view that UEFA's release is not still enough assurance that the midfielder will be included in the travelling squad. As usual, the body will act professinally to make it seem there is nothing to worry about when reverse is the case.

Arsenal have the final decision to make, If they are unable to guarantee his security while away in Azerbaijan then the best bet will be to make him stay back in London.

Something similar was witnessed while he was still playing for Borussia Dortmund. It was in the year 2015 at a time when his club were to play against Gabala in Azerbaijan and he was dropped. Dortmund's chief executive cited 'security concerns' as the reason for such decision.

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