Henrikh Mkhitaryan absence from showpiece final shames UEFA - Arsenal and Chelsea should boycott the Europa League final

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan has scored six goals in 25 English Premier League appearances.

    (CNN)Nine days before their season-defining Europa League final clash with rivals Chelsea in Baku, Arsenal's preparations suffered a not insignificant setback.

    "We're very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our #UELfinal against Chelsea," tweeted Arsenal.
    On any other day this could be a fairly mundane update on a player cruelly struck down by injury right on the cusp of what would be one of the biggest games of his career.
      But this is no case of misfortune or any sort of recklessness on behalf of the player in question. Rather a globally supported soccer giant has had to withdraw an international superstar from a major European showpiece final for no other reason than where he was born.
        The Mkhitaryan case is a major embarrassment for UEFA and raises huge questions over its decision to stage the game in Baku.
        Forget the travel impracticalities of hosting a major European final in the far reaches of Azerbaijan that has made it virtually impossible -- both financially and logistically -- for the majority of both sets of supporters to reach.
        Even forget the measly allocation of just 6,000 tickets for each club's fans in a stadium that holds 69,870.
          Simply consider that UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe and upholder of its values, has chosen to host a showpiece final in a country where people of a certain nationality are deemed unsafe and are usually not permitted entry.
          Armenia -- where Mkhitaryan is from -- and Azerbaijan have a century-long conflict stemming from the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and there were fears the Arsenal midfielder would not be safe in Baku.
          That leaves one team technically handicapped by the forced withdrawal of a key player because of a non-footballing decision taken by the organisation which is supposed to promote the sport and uphold its values.
          Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action for Arsenal against Napoli in the Europa League quarterfinals.
          UEFA's core principle on their RESPECT social responsibility campaign, which positively promotes inclusion, diversity and accessibility in football is: "Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from or how you play."
          Hopefully that's a message that comforts Mkhitaryan and other Armenians around the world as the international captain sits at ho