The Football Association of Wales (FAW) is monitoring the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Walesdue 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.
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.
“I think you have to be flexible in this day and age with the way things are going,” Wales boss Ryan Giggs said when asked if the FAW might speak to UEFA about the worsening situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. “The world we’re living in at the moment, with Covid-19 as well, things change daily. We have to just assess everything regarding the Euros the closer we get to it.”
Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan and they boast a 68,700-seat stadium called Baku Olympic Stadium. This six-storey stadium 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.
Before the tournament next year, Ryan Giggs‘ men will face Republic of Ireland, Finland and Bulgaria home and away in League B while there are two slots for friendlies to take place between September and November. Wales is also slated to face England in their 103rd meeting. Wales last faced the Three Lions at Wembley in 2011 when the hosts to win 1-0 in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
The last meeting between the two rival countries was in a group match at Euro 2016, when England secured a 2-1 victory courtesy of Daniel Sturridge goal after Jamie Vardy had earlier equalised following a Gareth Bale free-kick. Both England and Wales have qualified for the final stage of Euro 2020, which has been postponed by one year until the summer of 2021.
In a statement last month, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has confirmed retaining all 12 host cities to stage Euro 2020 now due in 2021. The decision includes the dates for the play-offs and the schedule of the new fixture for next year’s event. Aside the confirmation, UEFA also announced that the play-offs for Euro 2020 will be played in October and November 2020.