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31st May 2019

Fans allowed into Baku Europa League final for free to fill empty seats

Simon Lloyd

More controversy from the game in Baku

Even with the game itself in the past, the 2019 Europa League final is still generating negative headlines.

Chelsea and Arsenal returned approximately half of their measly allocation of 6,000 tickets for the final in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku – a lack of demand blamed on the distance supporters had to travel, and the difficulty in finding direct and reasonably priced flights to the city.

Days on from the game, which saw Chelsea win the trophy with a 4-1 victory, it’s emerged authorities allowed turnstiles to be opened during the first half of the game so that people could fill some of the remaining empty seats in the Olympic Stadium.

The Times report that the decision to allow football fans into the ground for free was taken without Uefa’s permission and was made after authorities were embarrassed by the poor attendance and atmosphere at the game.

“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 Arsenal supporter told the newspaper.

Uefa is said to have launched an official investigation into why this happened.

The same stadium is set to host four matches in Euro 2020 next year, including one of the tournament’s quarter-finals.

As well as the problems faced by the supporters of both London clubs, Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan opted not to travel to the game due to political tensions between his homeland of Armenia and Azerbaijan.