Tag Archives: Europa League

The Final Countdown

European finals do not come around often for The Arsenal.

If there is one part of our trophy laden history that is disappointing, it is success on the continent. Still yet to win a European Cup, we have only been in 6 European finals in our history – winning just two.

That is why, regardless of whether it is a Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Cup of European Cup Winners Cup final, it is something to be treasured.

It is also why the decision by UEFA to host the final in Baku is such a frustrating one.

Baku is simply an unsuitable venue. From it’s airport, the lack of flights and lack of hotels, it was always going to be unable to take thousands of travelling supporters no matter which 2 teams qualified. You have to wonder how exactly they won the bid to host the final.

UEFA will celebrate that hosting the final in Baku has enabled fans from around the globe who usually would have been unable to go to such a game attend. They will say that the decision has to host in Baku is justified as it is football for all.

The issue with hosting it in Baku has meant that fans who go week in, week out are unable to go. Finals are the reward for fans who go every week, maybe for years, without seeing success. That is why Arsenal prioritise season ticket holders when it comes to the allocation of tickets.

In future, UEFA need to ensure that host cities are accessible from throughout Europe regardless of which country they are travelling from. They must have an airport to cope with the capacity of thousands of travelling fans, have enough hotels and not restrict people from certain nations.

Even in UEFA’s own bid documents, they admitted that Baku was an unsuitable venue

But the decision has been made, and fans are making their way to Baku as we speak. Whether it be direct flights, via Riga, Istanbul or Tbilisi, there are a few thousand making their way out there. Fair play to them all.

For those going out there, our friends Arsenal Azerbaijan Supporters Club have put together a guide to Baku.

Anyone looking to watch the final in Islington, we have put together a comprehensive pub guide. Our advice; aim to wherever you want to watch it early and be prepared for your 1st choice pub to already be full.

We have lost our last 3 European finals in a row. Hopefully tomorrow night we put an end to that run and finish the season on a high.


Europa League Final: The “secret $2.9bn scheme” to deflect from Azerbaijan’s corruption & human right breaches

In April 2017, The Guardian reported that “Azerbaijan’s ruling elite operated a secret $2.9bn (£2.2bn) scheme to pay prominent Europeans through a network of opaque British companies.

Leaked data shows that the Azerbaijani leadership made more than 16,000 covert payments since 2012. Some of this money went to politicians, journalists and other officials as part of an international lobbying operation to deflect criticism of Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and to promote a positive image of his oil-rich country.”

5 months after the publication of this report, the Baku Olympic Stadium was selected as the venue by the UEFA Executive Committee.

As well as the Europa League Final, the Azerbaijan football association also bid to host the 2019 Champions League final.

In recent years, Azerbaijan was also selected to host the 2015 European Games (athletics), 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships, 2010 European Wrestling Championships, 2009 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships, 2014 European Taekwondo Championships, 2014 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships, and 2016 World Chess Olympiad.

In 2016 the country hosted its first Formula One Grand Prix.

One of the reported aims of the lobbying operation was to attract major events to Azerbaijan in an attempt to portray the country in a more “positive light” and deflect from various reports of election corruption and Human Rights abuse.

A report by an Amnesty International researcher in October 2015 stated that ‘Azerbaijan has been allowed to get away with unprecedented levels of repression and in the process almost wipe out its civil society’.

Amnesty’s 2015/16 annual report on the country stated ‘persecution of political dissent continued. Human rights organizations remained unable to resume their work.

Reprisals against independent journalists and activists persisted both in the country and abroad, while their family members also faced harassment and arrests.

International human rights monitors were barred and expelled from the country. Reports of torture and other ill-treatment persisted.’

According to Freedom House, in 2015 Azerbaijan authorities used spurious charges & investigations to shut down media organisations and detain several prominent journalists, bloggers, and freedom of expression advocates. Violence against journalists continued throughout the year.

Azerbaijan had the biggest number of journalists imprisoned in Europe and Central Asia in 2015, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and is the 5th most censored country in the world, ahead of Iran and China.

It ranked 177th out of 196 countries for press freedom.

In 2018, President Aliyev was elected to a fourth term in a process that lacked genuine competition, amid evidence of electoral fraud and tight restrictions on the media and opposition.

The 2019 Freedom House report on Azerbaijan declared that ‘corruption is rampant, and following years of persecution, formal political opposition is weak. The regime has overseen an extensive crackdown on civil liberties in recent years, leaving little room for independent expression or activism.’

In April 2018 President Ilham Aliyev was elected to a fourth term in a process that lacked genuine competition, amid evidence of electoral fraud and tight restrictions on the media and opposition. At the time opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov in prison on politically motivated charges. He was released in August after 5 years in jail. However, other opposition figures faced arrest and imprisonment during the year.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) state that ‘terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Azerbaijan. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners, such as international hotels, restaurants and pubs.’

They also advise to ‘keep well away from any large gatherings.’

In 2016, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILG) ranked Azerbaijan as the worst place in Europe to be LGBT, citing “a near total absence of legal protection” for LGBT individuals.

In September 2017, Azerbaijani police arrested dozens as part of a crackdown on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people

Despite human rights infringements, a lack of press freedom, a clear threat of terrorism and Azerbaijan being labelled as “not free”; the likes of UEFA, the IAAF and the FIA have all awarded Azerbaijan major events in recent years.

In 2015, Henrikh Mkhitaryan – then of Borussia Dortmund – did not travel for a Europa League tie as his safety could not be guaranteed following strained relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Earlier this season Mkhitaryan was once more left at home when Arsenal played Qarabag in Baku. In a statement, Arsenal said ‘acceptable guarantees (from UEFA) had not been received yet’ for Mkhitaryan’s safety.

It is unlikely that anyone with an Armenian passport, or dual British-Armenian nationality will be able to attend the final making a mockery of UEFAs “Football for Everyone” slogan.

Despite knowledge that an international captain would potentially be excluded from the final based on the country he represents, UEFA still gave the final to Baku and Azerbaijan.

UEFA gave the country the Europa League final despite knowing that its airport and infrastructure was unsuitable for huge numbers of travellers entering in a short period of time.

Baku is served by Heydar Aliyev International Airport. In 2018, approximately 6,000 passengers a day used the airport to enter Azerbaijan.

In a statement following the announcement that Arsenal and Chelsea would only receive 6,000 tickets each, UEFA admitted that more 15,000 flying into Baku was “not a reasonable option” and travelling fans would not “be able to arrange suitable travel to reach Baku.”

In 2015, an International Civil Aviation Organisation audit of aviation safety oversight found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Azerbaijan was below the global average.

With such poor infrastructure and a history of exclusion, Arsenal are right to question how UEFA awarded the final to Baku over Seville in Spain.

Azerbaijan is a country riddled by corruption with a history of human rights breaches and where there is no press freedom.

$2.9bn has been spent lobbying politicians, officials and journalists throughout Europe. Since this state supported operation began, Azerbaijan has won numerous major sporting events, including athletics, motor racing and football. All to deflect attention away from their problems in an attempt to show the country in a more positive light.

In 2015, FIFA faced a corruption scandal following bidding processes behind the awarding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Russia and the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar. In November 2014.

The question needs to be asked: What was the reason UEFA awarded the 2019 Europa League final to Baku?


Europa League Final – Arsenal Pub Guide

Europa League Final – Arsenal Pub Guide

Islington Sports Bar & Grill
274 Holloway Rd, London N7 6NE
Free entry
Tables fully reserved
Standing room only
1st come, 1st served

The Twelve Pins
263 Seven Sisters Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 2DE
Tickets on the day from 4pm
Over 19 only – no children
Food served until 4pm
1st come, 1st served

The Gunners
204 Blackstock Rd, Highbury, London N5 1EN
Over 18s only
£10 entry
1st drink free
1st come, 1st served
Noon – 2am

The Eaglet
124 Seven Sisters Rd, London N7 6AE
Free entry
1st come, 1st served

The Victoria Tavern
203 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DL
Tables fully reserved
Standing room only
1st come, 1st served
Free entry

Bank of Friendship
226 Blackstock Rd, Highbury, London N5 1EA
£5 on the door
1st come, 1st served
No admission after 7:30pm

The Auld Triangle
2 St Thomas’s Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 2QW
£5 entry
1st come, 1st served

The Horatia
98-102 Holloway Rd, Highbury East, London N7 8JE
Tables fully reserved
Limited standing room
1st come, 1st served
Free entry

Famous Cock Tavern
259 Upper St, Highbury, London N1 1RU
Standing room only
1st come, 1st served
Table’s fully booked

The Woodbine
215 Blackstock Rd, Highbury East, London N5 2LL
Free entry
1st come, 1st serves

Fox on the Green
1 Islington Green, The Angel, London N1 2XH
Free entry – no tickets
1st come, 1st served
Get there early
Can reserve a table via their website

The Park Tavern
164 Tollington Park, Finsbury Park, London N4 3AD
Free entry
1st come, 1st served

The Long Acre
1 Upper St Martin’s Ln, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9NY
Free entry
Booking in advance is advised
Shuts at 3am

The Northumberland Arms
141 King’s Cross Rd, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9BJ
Free entry
Happy hour 5-8: £3.20 a pint

House Of Hammerton
99 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LT
Will be screening it
Email to reserve: taproom@hammertonbrewery.co.uk

The Crown
116 Cloudesley Rd, Islington, London N1 0EB
1st come, 1st served
Free entry
Small buffet
1am closing – no entry after midnight

Brewhouse & Kitchen
Torrens St, The Angel, London EC1V 1NQ
Free entry
Pre-book tables to guarantee a spot
1st come, 1st served on the night

Hammerton Brewery
Unit 8 & 9, Roman Way Industrial Estate, 149 Roman Way, London N7 8XH
Will be screening it
Email to reserve: taproom@hammertonbrewery.co.uk

Hope & Anchor
207 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1RL
Free entry
1st come, 1st served

Cannons The Factory
223A Blackstock Rd, Highbury, London N5 2LL
Pay on the doors
Free entry


Tollington Arms – SOLD OUT
115 Hornsey Rd, London N7 6DN
£10 and include 1 free drink
Ticket only
Tickets can be purchased behind the bar from Wednesday 15th May
Over 18s only

The Rocket hosted by Red Action – SOLD OUT
166-220 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DB
Tickets £8
1st drink free
Doors open at 5pm
Over 18s only

The Highbury Barn Tavern – SOLD OUT
26 Highbury Park, Highbury East, London N5 2AB
£5 tickets
Available in advance

Club Aquarium hosted by The Away Boyz – SOLD OUT
256-260 Old St, Old Street, London EC1V 9DD
Tickets £10 + P&P
Available in advance via PayPal or Bank Transfer
Doors open at 5pm
The Away Boyz on stage 7pm & 11pm
Message The Away Boyz on Twitter for further details

O2 Academy Islington hosted by Red Action – THIS EVENT IS NOT LONGER ON
16 Parkfield St, The Angel, London N1 0PS
Free entry
Ticketed event
A £5 ticket must be purchased and a drink voucher will be exchanged on arrival