May 22 (AP/UNB) -The choice of Baku as host of the Europa League final provided Arsenal with further grounds for discontent Tuesday when one of the team's most talented players pulled out of the game for political reasons.
After holding lengthy talks with Arsenal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan said he would not be traveling to Azerbaijan for next week's final because of concerns about the tension that currently exists between the country and his native Armenia.
"It's the kind of game that doesn't come along very often for us players," Mkhitaryan said on his social media channels, "and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it."
UEFA, European soccer's governing body which organizes the Europa League, reacted by saying it had received assurances about Mkhitaryan's safety in Azerbaijan "from the highest authorities in the country" and that a "comprehensive security plan" had been given to Arsenal.
And the Azerbaijan government had previously said it would allow Mkhitaryan to play in the May 29 final against Chelsea.
The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan called it an "unwarranted decision" by Mkhitaryan and Arsenal, saying there was "no reason whatsoever to put in question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan."
Nagorno-Karabakh is a region of Azerbaijan which has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. Some neighboring districts are also under the control of those ethnic Armenian forces. International efforts to settle the conflict have stalled.
"We at all times put the sport as something very separate from these political issues and of course the same issue is again with Mkhitaryan," Azerbaijan Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said last week.
Arsenal has already criticized the decision to give Baku the final, having received — like Chelsea — only 6,000 tickets by UEFA and because of what the club says are "extreme" problems that fans face just getting to the match.
There are relatively few flights to Baku from Western Europe, though more are being operated for the final, and prices are far above usual levels.
Arsenal said in a statement it has "written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation" involving Mkhitaryan, who has missed previous group games in Azerbaijan for both Arsenal and former club Borussia Dortmund.
"Micki has been a key player in our run to the final," Arsenal said, "so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective."
The Armenian Foreign Ministry accused Azerbaijan of failing to guarantee Mkhitaryan's safety.
"If there were sufficient guarantees of security from the Azerbaijani side to satisfy both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and his team, then the Armenian Foreign Ministry does not see problems with Mkhitaryan playing in Baku," the ministry said.
After Mkhitaryan said he wouldn't travel, Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said it had assured his safety, and accused Armenia of manipulating the situation.
"The Armenian Foreign Ministry statement that player of Armenian heritage at the Arsenal football club will not come to Baku is evidence of an attempt to turn sport into a political instrument because of internal political problems in Armenia," ministry spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva said.
Mkhitaryan wouldn't have been a guaranteed starter for Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who often plays only one of his playmakers — Mesut Ozil and Mkhitaryan — each match. Mkhitaryan didn't start, for example, either of the quarterfinal matches against Napoli or either of the semifinal legs against Valencia.
He is dangerous player to come off the bench, though, with his vision and creative ability.
Arsenal will be playing its first European final in 13 years and looking to win its first continental trophy since the 1994 European Cup Winners' Cup. The game has even greater importance because Arsenal needs to win to secure qualification to the Champions League after missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have spilled into European soccer tournaments since the neighbouring nations were drawn together in a qualifying group for the 2008 European Championship.
Both games were eventually cancelled, after Azerbaijan refused to host Armenia and no agreement could be reached on neutral venues.
UEFA has since separated the countries in its competition draws ensuring that their national and club teams do not play each other.
Baku won the Europa League final hosting rights in a bidding contest that originally included Seville, Spain, and Istanbul. Seville was excluded because Madrid was awarded the Champions League final, which will be played on June 1.
UEFA evaluated each bidder, though a subsequent report did not mention the Armenia issue in a section analyzing security issues for Baku.
Arsenal's then-chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, was on the UEFA executive committee when Baku was chosen as Europa League host in September 2017. Mkhitaryan was then with Manchester United, playing in the Champions League, and joined Arsenal the following January.
May 22 (AP/UNB) - Responding to criticism after some fans buying tickets for the Women's World Cup were not given seats together, FIFA said it was working toward a solution with the local organizing committee in France.
Tickets were made available for printing Monday and ticket holders learned their seats were sometimes split up in separate rows and different sections — even couples and families with children were separated. The backlash on social media was swift.
On Tuesday, FIFA posted a statement to its website explaining that high demand for some matches, including the semifinal and final in Lyon, meant only single seats were available. FIFA also said that it estimates only a small number of fans are affected.
"FIFA and the Local Organizing Committee are continuing to work towards finding the best solution for all fans attending the FIFA Women's World Cup and, in particular, are doing everything they can to ensure that families will always be seated together at each and every match," the statement said, referencing a phone number and email for inquiries.
The tournament starts June 7 and runs through July 7. The situation could cause problems in the stadiums before games, when fans may try to swap seats to sit next to friends or family members.
FIFA's website included a disclaimer that the local organizing committee has assigned the French firm APS2 to handle online ticket sales. AP2S did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Dhaka, May 21 (UNB)- The sixth-ranked Chattogram Abahani Limited dropped points with bottom-placed Team BJMC in a 1-1 draw in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football at Shaheed Bulu Stadium in Noakhali on Tuesday.
Earlier, Chattogram Abahani conceded 1-2 defeat against Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on May 16.
After the day’s draw, Chattogram Abahani remained at their previous 6th slot securing 18 points from their 15 matches with four wins, six draw and five losses. Team BJMC also remained at the bottom earning 5 points from their 15 matches with five draws and 10 losses.
Team BJMC started an attacking football to dominate Chattogram Abahani and took its fruits few minutes before half time.
In the 45th minute, Nigerian midfielder Samson Illiasu found a goal with his long-range right-footer from outside the penalty area (1-0).
Chattogram Abahani produced some good chances but Team BJMC thwarted all of their attempts.
In the 84th minute, Chattogram Abahani got a relief when their Gambian striker Mamadou Bah leveled the margin by a good header (1-1).
On Wednesday, Brothers Union will play Dhaka Mohammedan at 4pm while Rahmatgonj MFS will face Sheikh Jamal DC at 7pm, both at Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Dhaka, May 21 (UNB)- It is well-known that away from the field of politics, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s great love in the field of sport was football. Which is why the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) believes it must play a prominent role in the celebrations centring the Father of the Nation’s centennial, set for next year.
BFF would like to leave its mark on the celebrations through multiple events, taking place throughout the year, including a series of international friendlies involving European teams.
BFF General Secretary Md Abu Nayeem Shohag said that they have proposed their plans of arranging international friendly matches during the last meeting of the 27-member sports sub-committee within the National Implementation Committee for Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Birth Centenary, held at the seminar room of the International Mother Language Institute on Monday.
“We are planning to arrange SAFF Championship, SAFF Under-15 Championship, Bangabandhu Gold Cup, and international football friendly matches between two European nations, say between Portugal, Germany, Italy or European clubs,” Shohag said.
Bangladesh Volleyball Federation (BVF) is also planning to arrange a 10-nation international volleyball tournament and national volleyball championship.
BVF General Secretary Ashiqur Rahman Miku said, “We are planning to arrange a 10-nation international volleyball tournament named after Bangabandhu and national volleyball championship for celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu.”
The sports sub-committee members prepared and proposed a budget of Tk 300 crore to the main committee headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
A committee officer, Deb Prasad Pal, said, “The members of the Sports Sub-Committee proposed their budget Tk 300 crore for the events of the 100th birth anniversary celebration of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”
State Minister for Youth and Sports and the Convener of Sports Sub-Committee Md Zahid Ahsan Russel, Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Dr Mohammad Zafar Uddin, Bangladesh Olympic Association Secretary General Syed Shahed Reza, Bangladesh Football Federation General Secretary Md Abu Nayeem Shohag, Bangladesh Hokey Federation General Secretary AKM Mominul Haque Sayed, Bangladesh Volleyball Federation General Secretary Ashiqur Rahman Miku and others were present in the meeting.
Earlier, Bangladesh government announced 2020 the ‘Mujib Year’ and formed two committee on February 14-- a 102-member national committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a 61-member implementation committee, with National Professor Mohammad Rafiqul Islam as President -- for observing the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Since then, ten subcommittees have also been formed to cover various fields, including international sports, cultural programs, films and documentaries, seminars, workshops, international works, media and promotion, and publication and literature.
Miami, May 21 (AP/UNB) — American defender John Brooks will miss the CONCACAF Gold Cup because of a knee ligament injury, joining DeAndre Yedlin on the sidelines.
Brooks, a central defender, did not play in Wolfsburg's last two games of the Bundesliga season. Yedlin, a right back, had left groin surgery last week.
CONCACAF announced preliminary 40-man rosters Monday. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter must select 23 players by early June.
The Americans open training camp next week in Annapolis, Maryland, but some Gold Cup players will not report until the following week.
Among the omissions on the preliminary roster are goalkeeper Bill Hamid, and forwards Bobby Wood and Andrew Wooten.
Winger Tyler Boyd is on the preliminary roster after FIFA approved his switch from New Zealand to the U.S. Others on the 40-man list include 20-year Fulham defender Marlon Fossey, 22-year Celtic defender Andrew Gutman who is on loan to Charlotte, Derby midfielder Duane Holmes and Duisburg forward Joe Gyau.
The U.S. has exhibitions against Jamaica on June 5 at Washington and Venezuela on June 9 at Cincinnati.
The Americans open their Gold Cup title defense against Guyana on June 18 at St. Paul, Minnesota. It will be their first competitive match in 20 months since an October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago caused them to miss the 2018 World Cup. They play Trinidad on June 22 at Cleveland and complete group play against Panama on June 26 at Kansas City, Kansas.
The Gold Cup is the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The preliminary roster:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, Belgium), Sean Johnson (New York City), Tyler Miller (Los Angeles), Zach Steffen (Columbus).
Defenders: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, Germany), Reggie Cannon (Dallas), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham), Marlon Fossey (Fulham, England), Greg Garza (Cincinnati), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas, Mexico), Andrew Gutman (Charlotte), Nick Lima (San Jose), Aaron Long (New York), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, England), Tim Ream (Fulham, England), Antonee Robinson (Wigan, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles).
Midfielders: Michael Bradley (Toronto), Duane Holmes (Derby, England), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke, Germany), Djordje Mihailovic, Chicago), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Cristian Roldan (Seattle), Wil Trapp (Columbus).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto), Jonathan Amon (Nordsjaelland, Denmark), Paul Arriola (D.C.), Corey Baird (Salt Lake), Tyler Boyd (Ankaragucu, Turkey), Joe Gyau (Duisburg, Germany), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado), Jordan Morris (Seattle), Christian Ramirez (Los Angeles), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen, Germany), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus).