Why holding the Europa League final in Baku was never a good idea

Why holding the Europa League final in Baku was never a good idea

In the past, UEFA has had a solid track record at holding major finals in different stadiums across Europe.

Not only is the venue a neutral one at that, not handing any advantages to either side. But it gives great publicity to some cities that don’t usually get to see football of that calibre.

Cardiff and Lisbon spring to mind as two of the most recent cities that fit this bill.

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan seems to also be in that boat. But when you look a bit closer, it isn’t as it appears.

It will host the 2018/19 Europa League final between English superpowers, Arsenal and Chelsea. Both sides are strongly supported across the globe, meaning that tickets to the game will be hotly contested, right?


Arsenal and Chelsea have only been allocated 6000 seats each in the Baku Olympic stadium, which has a capacity for nearly 70000 people. Seems ridiculous right?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The rest of the seats will be given to corporate members and UEFA partners. You can make up your own minds as to why that’s the case.

It’s a blight on UEFA for not only choosing to do this, but to do it at the expense of those who make the game so unanimously loved across the globe.

The fans.

Furthermore, flights to Azerbaijan for anyone wanting to go to the game and cheer their team are stupidly expensive.

Some flights are in excess of 1,000 British Pounds (that’s 2,000 AUD) and require multiple stopovers. If you think back to last September when West Coast fans were ripped off by the airlines on their way to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final, it’s like that.

But on some serious steroids.

And as if it couldn’t get any worse, it has.

With Arsenal making the final, Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be in contention to either start or come on as a substitute. He’s been a serviceable player this season for the Gunners and would offer them great flexibility on the day, either on a wing or as a central midfielder.

But due to political tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it’s a 50/50 chance that Mkhitaryan makes it to Baku.

Now whilst it’s easy to say UEFA couldn’t have done anything about this, truth be told, they could’ve prevented this.

Simply don’t hold the final in a country where there are political tensions of any sort. As Thanos once said, “it’s a simply calculus”.

In a day and age where society thrives on inclusion for all people regardless of race, gender or anything else, it’s a damn shame that UEFA and the sport of soccer have come to this.

For everything they’ve stood to stamp out, this farcical situation which is overshadowing what should be a great final seems to be a step in the wrong direction.

It’s not as big of a mistake as the decision to host the 1985 Champions League final in Belgium’s Heysel Stadium, but it’s certainly a mistake that most football fans and UEFA will want to forget in a hurry.

Let’s hope that lessons can be learnt from this.

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 teams up with Girlguiding to encourage participation growth

Women's football

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 and Girlguiding – the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women – have teamed up to encourage greater participation of girls and young women in football.

The partnership is being announced ahead of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament, which kicks off across England in July this year. It is hoped the collaboration will excite and encourage girls and young women’s interest in football and reinforce the sport’s inclusivity.

Girlguiding members will also have the chance to commemorate the tournament with a brand-new badge, whether they watch a match or take part in the co-created football activities. Through the partnership, more than 5,000 Girlguiding members are planning to attend EURO matches across England this summer.

Recent research commissioned by CHILDWISE found almost one third (32%) of girls aged 7-17 would like more opportunities to play football and more than half of girls (52%) have never watched football in a stadium, compared to 33% of boys.

The research also found 69% of girls would like to see women’s football celebrated more in the media and 71% of all children (boys and girls) think female footballers should be paid the same as male footballers.

To launch the partnership, Girlguiding members from 21st North East Manchester Rainbows, Brownies and Guides and the Greater Manchester Rangers joined England’s Women’s footballers – Katie Zelem and Ella Toone – for a training session at Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium, which will host the opening game of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 on July 6.

England midfielder Katie Zelem said in a statement:

“Getting to meet all the Girlguiding members was incredible. They picked up the activities so quickly and we all had an amazing time on the pitch talking about the game. As a former Rainbow, myself, it’s fantastic to be involved in such an important partnership, one which I have no doubt will help inspire and build girls’ confidence in the game.”

Chris Bryant, Tournament Director for UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, added in a statement:

“This summer’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 promises to be the biggest women’s sporting event in European history.

“It will inspire long-term, sustainable positive change in women’s and girls’ football and we are delighted we have been able to team up with Girlguiding UK to support that change.

“Football is for all. We want to ensure whether its playing or watching, girls have the confidence to get involved and the opportunity to do so. We can’t wait to see Girlguiding members across England cheering on the teams at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.”

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 announces TikTok as Official Entertainment Platform

EURO 2022

Social media platform TikTok has been announced as an official partner of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.

This year’s tournament will see TikTok utilised to amplify women’s football and to showcase some of the world’s best talents to the global football fanbase.

TikTok’s European General Manager, Rich Waterworth, had the following to say about the announcement:

“The move builds on the success of our partnership with UEFA for EURO 2020 and the incredible growth of women’s sport on TikTok,” he said.

“Alongside our landmark Title Sponsorship of the Women’s Six Nations rugby competition and unique partnership with Burnley FC Women who stream all their home games live on TikTok, we’ve seen everything from England’s Lionesses taking us behind-the-scenes, to Spain’s women’s Primera División sponsor Iberdrola showcasing the pride and passion of women’s football through #JueganComoChicas (#PlayLikeGirls), and football freestylers like Lia Lewis inspiring young women to get into the beautiful game.

“All this has led TikTok to become a cultural home for all sports fandom across Europe, with the hashtag #womeninsports racking up almost a billion views.

“With the tournament kicking off on 6 July across England, our community can get involved in a variety of creative ways, from using our innovative special effects and sounds in their videos, to joining in with TikTok LIVEs and EUROs-inspired hashtag challenges. Look out for an official UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 TikTok account ahead of the tournament, which aims to inspire and entertain the global football community with exclusive behind-the-scenes content, plus current and archival footage.”

Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of UEFA, added to the statement:

“We are thrilled to once again partner with TikTok, this time for the biggest UEFA Women’s EURO ever,” he said.

“With the TikTok football community ever-growing with teams, fans, creators and associations, we are looking forward to showcasing this summer’s premiere sporting event featuring some of the greatest women’s footballers in the world through unique, creative and engaging content. It’s an exciting time to be a football fan.

“Since our partnership with UEFA for EURO 2020, we have seen TikTok become the home of football fandom; with creators, players and nations alike coming together to share their passion for the beautiful game, in a uniquely TikTok way. We are delighted to continue this partnership as the Official Entertainment Platform of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, and to build on our joint efforts to promote equality and inclusion in football through TikTok’s #SwipeOutHate campaign and UEFA’s #EqualGame.

“We cannot wait to see our community show their support for the women’s game, as we make this year’s championship even more accessible to our global community.”

© 2022 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks