Arsenal supporters stand outside a pub in Baku, Azerbaijan, Tuesday May 28, 2019. English Premier League teams Arsenal and Chelsea are preparing for the Europa League Final soccer match that takes place in Baku on Wednesday night.
The Latest on the Europa League final (all times local):
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi is attending a UEFA executive committee meeting ahead of the Europa League final despite being implicated in a French corruption case.
French prosecutors last week linked al-Khelaifi to payments allegedly helping the Qatari capital of Doha win the hosting rights for the track and field world championships.
Besides his role at PSG, al-Khelaifi is chairman of Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports and he also sits on the UEFA executive committee representing the influential European Club Association.
He is also the subject of a criminal proceeding opened in 2017 in Switzerland where federal prosecutors suspect he bribed a senior FIFA official with the use of a luxury villa in Italy to help beIN retain World Cup broadcasting rights.
The meeting at a Baku hotel ahead of the Europa League final is expected to pick a replacement for Reinhard Grindel, who resigned as UEFA vice president last month following criticism of his leadership of the German soccer federation.
UEFA will also select a host for the 2021 Women’s Champions League final.
UEFA executive committee member Andriy Pavelko has defended the choice of Baku as host of the Europa League final, despite high travel costs for Arsenal and Chelsea fans.
Pavelko says “obviously it’s peak strain on any city which does it, and I think there would be no less of a problem in London with the location and the hotels.”
He adds that he is “sure that the match will give positive emotions to all the fans who have arrived for the final and I’m sure that Baku will show its abilities and hospitality to the maximum.”
Only a few thousand Arsenal and Chelsea fans from England have made the journey to Azerbaijan. Many were deterred by high hotel prices and the relatively few and expensive flights from Western Europe.
Two fans have been injured in confrontations ahead of the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Azerbaijan Health Ministry spokesman Parviz Abubekirov tells The Associated Press one British fan was hospitalized with an open head wound and bruising “as a result of an altercation between fans of the two football teams.”
Abubekirov adds a Russian man was hurt in an unconnected incident in a bar and treated at the scene.
Relatively few English fans have traveled to Azerbaijan for Wednesday’s final because of high travel costs, and neither Arsenal nor Chelsea sold out their allocations of 6,000 tickets apiece.
However, many fans of both clubs have flown in from Russia and southeast Asia, and both Arsenal and Chelsea have local supporters in Azerbaijan.
Arsenal and Chelsea are gearing up to play a London derby far from home in the Europa League final.
Playing three time zones and 2,460 miles (4,000 kilometers) from London in Azerbaijan, the game offers Arsenal coach Unai Emery the chance to win a record fourth Europa League title.
It could be his Chelsea counterpart Maurizio Sarri’s last game with the team after he refused to rule himself out of the vacant Juventus post on Tuesday, though he said he would find it hard to leave the English Premier League.
N’Golo Kante has a knee problem and is not guaranteed to start for Chelsea, which is already missing injured midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Victory would hand Arsenal its first European trophy since the 1994 edition of the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup, while Chelsea is seeking a first European title since the 2013 Europa League.