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Europa League: Concerns grow over 2019 final venue and Baku's human rights record

The fixture will be staged in the Azerbaijani city on May 29 but Football Supporters Europe believe it to be a 'challenging environment'

Thursday 28 March 2019 08:54 GMT
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Football Supporters Europe has expressed concerns over the suitability of Baku's Olympic Stadium as the venue for this season's Europa League final.

The fixture will be staged in the Azerbaijani city on May 29 at 11pm local time, but the FSE believes it to be a "challenging environment" and has asked that Uefa address their concerns over its human rights' record and more.

It is also critical of the fact 37,500 tickets for the 69,700-capacity venue will be made available to the general public, potentially to the detriment of those supporting the two teams that reach the final, which could yet include Chelsea and Arsenal.

"According to Human Rights Watch's 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical," read a statement released by the FSE. "Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens.

"Uefa stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome. The FSE is monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

"Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence."

The FSE also revealed that Uefa has vowed to address the visa process requiring disclosure of an individual's HIV status, so that anyone hoping to attend can do so regardless of that status.

Regarding the ticketing policy that it believes will leave the number of supporters present "exceptionally low" , the organisation's representative Martin Endemann said: "Uefa should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public."

The statement concluded: "FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the final will draw attention to (these) difficulties."

PA

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