#BoycottBaku: Move the Europa League Final

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On May 30th, 2019 the Europa League Final is expected to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan. Chelsea and Arsenal are set to face off for the title - but one star Arsenal player will not be there. 

Henrikh Mkhtaryan will be unable to travel to Baku because he is Armenian, and due to Azerbaijan's policy of state-sponsored racism it is unsafe for Armenians to enter the country. UEFA has chosen to turn a blind eye.

Since 1991, Azerbaijan has been at war with the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (otherwise known as Artsakh), a region that is recognised by the international community as being part of Azerbaijan despite being 100% ethnically Armenian. 

In 1991, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh declared their independence from Azerbaijan following decades of persecution and dispossession, establishing the Republic of Artsakh which to this day remains outside the control of Azerbaijan. 

In retaliation, Azerbaijan has adopted policies of state-sponsored discrimination against Armenia. Children's textbooks erase Armenia from world maps. Government officials describe Armenians as enemies of the state. The president declares his intention to rid the region of Armenians and march on Armenia's capital. Anyone with an Armenian surname is unable to enter the country. This has not only affected Mkhtaryan, but season ticket holders and lifelong football fans who have already been denied visas. 

More egregious acts of violence against Armenians condoned by the Azerbaijani government include the pardoning and promotion of Ramil Safarov after he was arrested for murdering an Armenian soldier during a NATO Partnership for Peace program in Hungary in 2004. Or the mutilation of three elderly Armenians during an attempted invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2016. 

Desperate to clean up its public image, Azerbaijan has sought to use its considerable oil wealth to buy favour in the West. 

One recent example has come to be known as the "Azerbaijani Laundromat" - a money laundering scheme involving over $2.9 billion dollars between 2012-2014 alone which saw blood money funnelled into the pockets of European politicians, bureaucrats and journalists in exchange for silence in the innumerable human rights abuses committed by the Azeri regime. 

In light of UEFA's "No to Racism" campaign, and in the spirit of the world game, it is unacceptable that the Europa League Final take place in a country whose government so brazenly discriminates against the Armenian people.

We call on UEFA to move the game, and for Arsenal F.C. and Chelsea F.C. to #BoycottBaku.


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