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Gloss Well And Truly Taken Off By UEFA Madness

CBA implores “write about what hugs yer heart”. A clever way of pointing out I have been lax this week. As I will be out from dawn until well past dusk tomorrow I shall type random phrases accompanied by a very large muscle relaxant. What is in my heart? The Arsenal of course.

This should be the happiest fortnight of the season coming up. Finally we have a European Final to look forward to thirteen years after that Champions League Final when we were thirteen minutes from lifting big ears with only ten men against them, in that despicable European Final graveyard for us. Names that cannot be mentioned have not been.

Yet the shine has been taken off the upcoming completion of Europe’s second competition by and large because it is being held pretty much in Asia. Certainly in Eurasia, as Orwell would confirm. The expense of getting there, the paltry ticket allocation, and by no means least, the requirement of a visa. This has far-reaching consequences for some Gooners.

Azerbaijan is still virtually at war with the ethnic Armenian majority of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by Armenia, although officially the conflict ended 25 years ago. The wounds are fresh and as we discovered when we played Qarabag earlier in the tournament nobody seems willing or able to guarantee the safety of Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan. It doesn’t stop there, however. Arsenal, being a worldwide club, have a number of Armenian and Anglo Armenian supporters who will most definitely not be granted visas to travel to the match.

How on earth UEFA could have picked such a venue, inconveniencing (*to say the very least) the supporters of both competing clubs, and to which we probably won’t be able to take a key midfielder in the absence of Aaron Ramsey, is beyond common sense and smells very unsavoury indeed. (* royally pissing off would be more accurate!)

I suggested on Twitter yesterday that once supporters have missed a European Final they might be inclined to miss more and more matches if this is how the governing bodies are going to treat them. UEFA is effectively driving people away from the game they are supposed to promote. That is a grave charge to lay at their door.

I was going to say it’s not all bad news, but for a couple of young footballers the missing of such a high profile fixture must be soul-destroying. Fortunately for us they are Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek. The latter was crocked playing in a friendly in the States a fortnight before what would have been the biggest night of a fledgling career.

Let’s pray we don’t have anybody getting enthusiastic with their challenges in training as we build up to our last chance to clinch Champions League football next season.

Dear Chelsea, I don’t suppose you’d do us a favour and withdaw that Hazard chap in protest if Mkhitaryan is forced to miss the Final? You are already in the Champions League, after all.

Have a good weekend, ‘holics.

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