Henrikh Mkhitaryan May be Banned from Baku due to ‘Armenophobia’
YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the Armenian midfielder who plays for Borussia Dortmund and the Armenian national soccer team, could face trouble during an upcoming game taking place in Azerbaijan due to what the Armenian Foreign Ministry is calling Azerbaijan’s “Armenophobia.”
Speaking to Armenpress, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, said that the issue is connected to Mkhitaryan’s Armenian ethnicity and nationality.
“The ridiculous attitude of [the] Azerbaijani side is not something new to us, as any person with an Armenian name is prohibited to enter Azerbaijan. The latter completely reflects the country’s policy guidelines of Armenophobia propaganda. It is clear that visiting Artsakh has nothing to do with it.”
According to Balayan, last year a Turkish citizen was stopped in a Baku airport and prohibited from entering Azerbaijan because his last name ended in “yan,” the common Armenian suffix for last names.
Earlier, Borussia Dortmund expressed hope that Mkhitaryan would not encounter any problems during his visit to Azerbaijan to play against Qabala with the Europa League. Press secretary of the Dortmund club, Sascha Fligge, said that, “at this moment, Henrikh is a very important player for us and played [wonderfully] during the last weeks, so we hope that Mkhitaryan will have no problems playing in the [Europa League].”
At the same time, AzeriSport.com wrote that Mkhitaryan could be arrested if he travels to Azerbaijan for the match against Qabala, which is scheduled to take place on October 22. “His visit to Nagorno-Karabakh can be the reason for it,” wrote the Azeribaijani website. Mkhitaryan visited Artsakh in 2011.
Meanwhile, Nikita Simonyan, acting president of the Russian Sports Federation, has said that sports laws oblige Azerbaijan to permit Mkhitaryan’s entry into the country.
“If Mkhitaryan is not allowed to take part in the match, either he or his club will have to apply to the UEFA [Union of European Football Associations], given that Azerbaijan has no legal grounds to prevent him from playing for Borussia in Azerbaijan. So, Baku’s obstacles will roughly violate football laws,” Simonyan told championat.com.
UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino said at a press conference in Monaco that his organization will do its best to help Mkhitaryan take part in the Borussia-Qabala match in Baku.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry continues its notorious policy of blacklisting individuals who have travel the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, saying that they must make “prior arrangements” with Baku.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hikmet Hajiyev said that official Baku does not mix politics with sports and views soccer as a team sport, thus Borussia Dortmund could be considered a team when entering Azerbaijan.