UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has defended the decision to host the Europa League final in Baku in an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel set to be published on Saturday, according to AFP.
Chelsea and Arsenal are set to play in Baku on May 29.
Ceferin, 51, told Der Spiegel that the final would be played in Baku because “there are people who live there who love football”.
Commenting on the human rights situation, Ceferin said: “But it is also a problem in other European states. Does that mean the fans in Baku do not deserve live football?”
The controversy over Baku increased this week, when Arsenal’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan decided not travel to the final amid concerns for his safety.
The UEFA president said that the decision was Mkhitaryan’s to make, and said that Azerbaijan had given guarantees about the player’s safety.
“We managed to organize a safe European Championships in France when the country was a target of terrorist attacks,” Ceferin said.
“If football allows itself to be stopped by such tensions, then we will not be able to organize anything in future,” he added.