Arsenal players' plans to show visual support for Henrikh Mkhitaryan during the Europa League final have been blocked by UEFA rules.
Mkhitaryan will not feature in the Europa League final against Chelsea, which is set to take place in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. The midfielder has chosen not to travel to Baku for safety reasons due to the long-standing political tensions between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, UEFA insiders have confirmed that any such action would be prohibited by strict UEFA rules as the kit the players wear during the game, as well as any potential post-match winners' t-shirts, are subject to approval by European football's governing body.
Arsenal themselves are also wary of making a strong political statement in Baku through their support of Mkhitaryan and they do not wish to invite any unnecessary hostility.
UEFA has attracted plenty of criticism for their decision to host the final in Baku, not just for their handling of the Mkhitaryan situation.
[...] It‘s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often for us players and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it.I will be cheering my teammates on! Let’s bring it home @Arsenal 🏆💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼 #uel #final #arsenal #chelsea #AFC #COYG pic.twitter.com/gnDA6oyolw— Henrikh Mkhitaryan (@HenrikhMkh) May 21, 2019
Azerbaijan has proven to be difficult to travel to for Arsenal and Chelsea supporters, who were both allocated just 6,000 tickets - despite the fact that the The Olympic Stadium holds 69,870.
Those issues have been exacerbated as the closest airport to the stadium is only capable of welcoming 15,000 visitors, raising concerns over whether supporters who make the trip will even be able to make it to the stadium in the first place.