The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), governing body of the European football, has decided earlier this week that all club and national team competition matches in Armenia and Azerbaijan will be suspended “until further notice” due to the ongoing clash in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. However, they insist that the decision did not affect the plans on staging of Euro 2020 in Baku.
“After having carefully monitored the evolution of the situation which broke out late September, which has already led to the relocation of a UEFA Europa League play-off and two UEFA Nations League matches to neutral venues, UEFA is of the opinion that, at the present time, the conditions to stage UEFA matches in these countries are not met,” the organization’s Executive Committee in a statement.
The two former Soviet republics have been involved in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a 1,700 square mile enclave in the Caucasus Mountains, for decades now. The last encounter was recorded between 1988 and 1994, a separatist war that left nearly 40,000 people dead and hostilities between the two nations. The UEFA and the FAW said they are monitoring the situation.
“The situation in the region will be monitored and the decision taken by the UEFA Executive Committee does not affect the ongoing planning for the staging of UEFA Euro 2020 matches in Baku in June next year,” the statement added. UEFA’s decision means Azeri club Qarabağ will have to find another venue for their Europa League match with Villarreal on October 29.
Earlier, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) is monitoring the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Wales due to play two Euro 2020 matches in Baku next summer. The disputed region is less than 200 miles from the Azerbaijani capital Baku. In the recent confrontation in over the decades-long disputed region, more than 100 people have reportedly dies.
Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan and they boast a 68,700-seat stadium called Baku Olympic Stadium. This six-storeystadium was the venue for the 2019 UEFA Europa League final, in which Chelsea beat London rivals Arsenal. It is the home of the Azerbaijan national team. Matches to be staged in this arena are: Wales v Switzerland; Turkey v Wales; Switzerland v Turkey; Quarter-final: W40 v W38.
This 225,000-square-meter stadium on a 650,000-square-meter site is one of the youngest stadiums to be used in the tournament as it was completed just in February 2015. Although named after the Olympics, Baku Olympic Stadium is yet to host the Olympics. However, the design of the stadium is based on Olympic blueprints that hold multi-purpose events.