Europa League final organisers let people in for free to fill empty seats

first_imgChelsea and Arsenal had already returned half of their 6,000 seats allocated due to the lack of demand for the final.Fans were reluctant to travel to Baku due to the long-natured distance of the journey and the cost of the trip, with some chartered flights by Thomas Cook priced at almost £1,000.BT Sport commentators referenced the amount of empty seats noticeable in the stadium in the opening 30 minutes of the match, but after the half hour mark many of the seats began to fill. 3 Getty Images – Getty Fans were allowed into the stadium in Baku for free Turnstiles at the stadium were opened so locals could enter for free Authorities in Baku opened the turnstiles during the first-half of the Europa League final to allow members of the public into the Olympic Stadium for free.The decision, which was taken without authorisation from UEFA, was made because Azerbaijani officials were said to be embarrassed about the amount of empty seats showing on television pictures. UEFA also received widespread criticism when Arsenal made the decision not to take Armenian forward Henrikh Mikhitaryan to the match, with the 30-year-old refusing to travel to Baku over the conflict between his country and host nation Azerbaijan.The same political tensions saw him skip the Gunners’ clash against Qarabag in Baku earlier this season, while they also prevented him from playing for Borussia Dortmund in a Europa League game against Gabala – in northern Azerbaijan – in October 2015. One Gunners fan, speaking to The Times, said: “We were in the Arsenal corner and there were a lot of empty seats and suddenly after about 30 minutes lots of local people arrived, including some kids, and they had been given Arsenal flags to wave.”An employee at UEFA disclosed the decision of the officials in Baku had been taken against the wishes of the governing body, but they could do nothing to prevent it happening. 3 3 Mkhitaryan did not play the final due Armenia and Azerbaijan’s long-running conflict last_img read more