Why arsenal should boycott the popular ways to make money europa league final

And we retort that it’s a shallow eye which can’t see beyond the corporatised grotesquery. That’s not football, we scoff, and then rail off our own definitions: lines about agony, ecstasy, communality, about football having the capacity for transcendental experiences. And then events such as those surrounding this year’s europa league conspire to make our idealism look stupid, and force us to confront that football isn’t what we hope and long it to be after popular ways to make money all.

That arsenal’s henrikh mkhitaryan will not feature in the final is popular ways to make money among the modern game’s most unconscionable shames. As an arsenal fan, I have something of a vested interest. Though it might be a somewhat contentious opinion in some popular ways to make money quarters, I really rate mkhitaryan, and believe we’ll be far less competitive without him in what is popular ways to make money a must-win game. But how this affects the ‘footballing’ side of proceedings is practically irrelevant here. A player has had to forfeit their right to compete popular ways to make money in one of the grandest showpieces in club football due popular ways to make money to his armenian nationality and resulting fears for his safety, and the game will go ahead regardless. It shouldn’t.

Uefa’s awarding and subsequent handling of the final in azerbaijan’s capital baku has been farcically rotten in several different popular ways to make money ways. Even from a purely practical perspective, that it’s being held in a city which would be beyond popular ways to make money impractical for the majority of european fanbases to reach – let alone those of two clubs from a city with popular ways to make money some of the best-connected airports in the world – without either spending obscene amounts of money or entire days popular ways to make money travelling to, is absurd.

But it begs the questions: why hold the event in a city if it’s unable to cope with being descended upon by two popular ways to make money of the tournament favourites’ fanbases in the first place? And if this were the case, how is it possible for the city to also cope popular ways to make money with those who will fill the other 55,000 remaining seats? Are the guests of commercial hospitality somehow each a quarter popular ways to make money of a strain on the city’s infrastructure, or is it simply far more important to appease them?

These are rhetorical questions, underlined by the probability that both clubs are set to popular ways to make money return around half of their already paltry allocations. Two of the biggest clubs in the world will contest popular ways to make money one of the biggest prizes in football, in front of a crowd majorly comprised of onlookers who popular ways to make money support neither, and – again – the game will go ahead regardless.

However, and also again, the explicit cheapening of a major final, of apparent significance to little more than a corporate jolly popular ways to make money – a charge that could be increasingly levied at most elite popular ways to make money level football – pales in significance to the political context that involves holding popular ways to make money an event in a country which has an effective ban popular ways to make money on entry for the citizens and descendants of another.

It isn’t beholden on uefa to resolve the ongoing nagorno-karabakh conflict between armenia and azerbaijan which i why such popular ways to make money a ban is in place. It is, however, entirely within their jurisdiction to not award one of its popular ways to make money major events to either country. After receiving a letter from arsenal expressing concerns about the popular ways to make money suitability of the host city, uefa responded by pathetically doubling down, claiming this situation was unforeseeable when the decision was made popular ways to make money to award the final to baku two years ago, and that they ‘would consider it utterly unfair to exclude certain venues just popular ways to make money based on their decentralised geographical position’.

It’s a preposterous grasp at some moral higher ground that popular ways to make money reveals contemptible hypocrisy. The armenian premier league is part of the uefa confederation, and their clubs are awarded europa league qualifying spots accordingly. It would be a wild improbability that an armenian team popular ways to make money would ever reach the final, of course, but it should never exist as a hypothetical that in popular ways to make money the event, a team would necessarily have to forfeit the result. Do uefa consider it utterly ‘fair’ to exclude armenian teams ‘just based on their geographical position’? And fans of armenian descent? And of course, armenian players, like henrikh mkhitaryan?

There are already attempts to push mkhitaryan’s non-involvement entirely on the player. The azerbaijan FA have released a statement calling the decision popular ways to make money ‘unjustified and unwarranted’, claiming that the player had requisite permission to compete. This comes mere days after the azerbaijan ambassador’s ‘reassurances’ amounted to what can only be read as a barely popular ways to make money veiled threat: ‘my message to mkhitaryan would be: you’re a footballer, you want to play football? Go to baku, you are safe there. If you want to play the issue, then that’s a different story.’

It is ludicrous to expect an athlete to compete under popular ways to make money such a sinister condition. Mkhitaryan is not only entirely justified in his decision, but never really had a ‘decision’ in the first place, given that his involvement in the game would risk the popular ways to make money safety and security of himself, his family and – as others have pointed out – the entire arsenal contingent.

If a host nation has to provide special dispensation for popular ways to make money players to compete, irrespective of its ability to actually carry that out successfully, then it should be disqualified for consideration. It’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore ‘sportswashing’ – a phrase coined by amnesty international, referring to the means by which states and corporations seek popular ways to make money to enhance their global reputation and gloss over their transgressions popular ways to make money and oppressions by hosting lavish sporting events in exchange for popular ways to make money vast sums of cash. Azerbaijan is an autocratic petrostate that uefa has happily granted popular ways to make money one of the most prestigious events in its calendar, prioritising the potential rewards of the occasion at the expense popular ways to make money of competing clubs’ actual fans and to the active detriment of armenians.

This can be in no way considered to be a popular ways to make money problem limited to azerbaijan, or to the specific circumstances surrounding this game. It’s endemic throughout football. Beyond qatar’s world cup and manchester city’s alleged FFP contravention, virtually every top-level club in world football is ethically compromised in some popular ways to make money way, to varying degrees of severity, from the extremely dubious to the utterly inexcusable.

You could make a convincing argument that the entire structure popular ways to make money which organises the game is fundamentally and systemically immoral. Arsenal are themselves a sponsored by a UAE-owned airline, are all of one year off having been part-owned by billionaire alisher usmanov, and are now fully owned by stan kroenke, who donates millions of dollars to donald trump. I was able to swallow and stomach all of this popular ways to make money so far, so why does this final feel different? And why do I feel ashamed that the club I popular ways to make money support, in spite of these things, have merely released a statement expressing ‘disappointment’ at having to leave mkhitaryan behind, rather than boycotting the game altogether?

The optics are far more apparent and significantly worse. It’s one thing carrying a sports-washed shirt sponsor (which sponsors are ‘good’, after all?), but quite another acquiescing to an obviously discriminatory situation due popular ways to make money to financial incentives. We labour under the illusion that our clubs are symbolic popular ways to make money of more than their shareholders, their millionaire representatives, their sponsors, their results and their individuals. Clubs are more than happy to maintain this themselves, with marketing teams dedicated to peddling notions that they function popular ways to make money (and can only function) as a collective – an entity encompassing owners, managers, players and supporters together, in solidarity and of equal importance. It’s impossible to summon the credulity to believe that such popular ways to make money fanciful idealism would be even remotely true of arsenal if popular ways to make money they go ahead with this match.

I do understand the club’s rationale behind playing. A europa league win would gift us the champions league popular ways to make money spot we missed out on qualifying through the league this popular ways to make money year, an achievement worth somewhere in the region of £40m to £100-million. From a purely business perspective, unless we value mkhitaryan at that price, it makes sense to sacrifice his playing time. Furthermore, uefa have clear disciplinary procedures in place to dissuade any popular ways to make money such forfeit, from significant financial penalties to further action.

In a climate where uefa have already stated that it popular ways to make money believes criticism of baku’s hosting to be morally ‘unfair’; where the organisation draws constant criticism from players for its popular ways to make money inadequate responses to explicit racism – usually paltry fines in the low thousands; and where authorities fine clubs more for walking off the popular ways to make money pitch in protest at racism than their opposition for committing popular ways to make money it, you can only imagine the severity of the sanctions they popular ways to make money will impose on any club that boycotts a showpiece final popular ways to make money they stand to make a tremendous amount of money from, and could embarrass them royally. The punishment could be anything from a monumental fine to popular ways to make money permanent exclusion from european competition.

And yet I found myself infuriated that I was going popular ways to make money through all of this rationalisation in my head. So what? I hate that I’ve been made to even care about the financial side popular ways to make money of the game. This piddly little non-enjoyment of football spent fretting over ‘net spend’ and contract negotiations and what our projected performance over the popular ways to make money next decade will look like.

It’s wilfully deluded nonsense, for the most part, to believe that our clubs we (often irrationally) elect to support as children actually have any values or popular ways to make money a specific ways that could lend our support more intrinsic popular ways to make money worth than anyone else’s. But we do believe these things. I’m guilty of reverse engineering and extrapolating all sorts of popular ways to make money fantastical romanticised rubbish about how growing up adoring arsene wenger’s arsenal instilled all sorts of things in me; configured my ways of seeing the world and reflected my popular ways to make money values. This justified why I cared. The cold reality is far closer to simply spending decades popular ways to make money following a massively successful football club win a lot for popular ways to make money the purpose of profit, much like every other club.

Arsenal are doing exactly what every other club at our popular ways to make money level would do in our situation. This is no excuse or comfort. The grim reality is that every other club is just popular ways to make money as spineless. There are plenty of fans like me – who sit somewhere between the myopic loyalists who will follow popular ways to make money their club regardless, impervious to any off-the-pitch activity, blind to the idea they could ever do any wrong popular ways to make money – and the ‘against modern football’ abstainers; those who forgo their support in favour of their puritanical popular ways to make money principles. Situations like the one we find ourselves in are deeply popular ways to make money uncomfortable for us. They expose our cowardice. We bristle at things we read and learn about our popular ways to make money club’s behaviour because we know that they won’t be enough to stop us caring, even though they really ought to.

What worse advert can there be for modern football than popular ways to make money this final? All those lofty, romanticised ideals we project on to the game – about passion, belonging, and pride; about its universal commonality as a boundaryless obsession; about its potential to facilitate escapism and to fulfil dreams, no matter who you are and where you’re from – all of that rendered utterly meaningless.

Even if you have the elite level talent to make popular ways to make money it as one of the best-paid professional footballers, playing for one of the most reputable clubs, competing in one of the highest profile tournaments, you can still be precluded from your job as a popular ways to make money result of where you were born, dehumanised at the behest of global capital. And there’s nothing you can do and nothing anyone in power popular ways to make money will do about it – not even your own club.

What a disgraceful, appalling and disempowering image. I understand the arsenal fans who want us to win popular ways to make money this trophy, particularly when spurs are knocking at the door of a popular ways to make money much bigger one – but what will it matter? It could go down on wikipedia as a win, on our balance sheets as profit, and our memories as a match we weren’t even really invited to watch.

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