Date published: Tuesday 14th May 2019 11:23
Jurgen Klopp has been criticised by the Azerbaijan FA following his comments that the Europa League final should not be held in Baku.
Klopp called UEFA’s decision to stage the final in Baku – which will be contested by Arsenal and Chelsea – as “irresponsible” in a press conference on Friday.
“I think going to Baku, that’s really funny for a European final,” Klopp said.
“These guys who make the decisions I don’t know what they have for breakfast really.
“How can you do it? Last year we go to Kiev which is a wonderful city but that a Russian team, or one from that part of the world, will be involved is not really likely.
“You go there and now Madrid has to prepare for 200,000 English fans. Baku I have no clue how to get there or if there is any regular flight at all.
“In these decisions people must be a much more sensible and reasonable. It is irresponsible.”
Chelsea and Arsenal have been allocated just 6,000 tickets each for fans wanting to get to Azerbaijan, that’s 12,000 tickets in a ground that holds just under 70,000.
However, the Azerbaijan FA’s general secretary Elkhan Mammadov said he had to “strongly disagree” with Klopp’s comments.
“I was unpleasantly surprised by the remarks of Jurgen Klopp,” Mammadov is quoted as saying.
“He always gave an impression of a very positive person. Moreover, we all know that he is a great specialist who has achieved really outstanding results in football.
“But with all this, I strongly disagree with his opinion that football should be geographically limited.
“We must respect and promote the values of football. And one of our main values is the expansion of the boundaries of football and its globalization.
“Europe has long gone beyond the borders of the countries of the western part of this continent.
“And I am convinced that holding European Championship matches and European Cup finals in Eastern Europe opens up new opportunities for developing football in these countries, serves to make it more popular among the younger generation, attracts young people to football.
“The same can be said about the organization of the Champions League final in Kiev or 10 years ago in Istanbul.
“Yes, perhaps this year the prices in Madrid have risen because of the Champions League final, but this is the so-called side effect of a market economy and it happens everywhere on the eve of big sporting events.
“I agree that getting to Baku by bus from London will be difficult, but [since] when was the distance a barrier for real fans?
“I want to remind you that three cities participated in the tender for the final: Seville, Istanbul and Baku. No one limited the ability of other countries to participate.
“I am sure that there will be a real football holiday in Baku. And I am also confident that the same will happen in Madrid.”