Controversial right from the start. The last episode of UEFA’s Europe League campaign. The Final. While everyone in Europe shared their frustration, it remained awfully quiet in Swiss. Everything the European Football Association pretends to stand for, is completely wiped out by arrogance and greed. The puppet show has been exposed. A disgraceful final, the bankruptcy of football. Scandalous!
For me the final was just an excuse to explore interesting Georgia and Azerbaijan. Two countries which haven’t been taken by mass tourism (yet). A perfect holiday. At that time the finalists were not known yet. Personally I hoped for Eintracht Frankfurt as they had an amazing European campaign. The unity between club, team and supporters is simply amazing. They colored the Europe League this year.
City of Baku
Since Azerbaijan became independent in 1991, the city developed rapidly. It became the country’s showpiece. Modernized in every aspect. Wide, nice paved streets, stylish (illuminated) buildings and one after the other skyscraper is build. The city breathes prosperity and unparalleled luxury. No dirt can be found on the street. Made possible by the enormous wealth from the oil industry.
However, the country also has a downside. Only 3% of the population benefits from the wealth. There is also great poverty on the outskirts of the city. In particular, minorities from Armenia and the politically sensitive state of Karabakh live in slums. The fierce regime in the country directs a large facade with Baku that hides the problem. The city isn’t suitable to host the UEL final, proved by the mass criticism towards UEFA throughout Europe. Apparently football is the least important thing.
The final was just a misery. It may not even be called a parody of a football party. An ordinary tourist parade. Everything the fanatic football supporter hates was present in Baku. A big circus! Beer drinking monkeys and half-half shirts. Couples who normally don’t give a fuck about football, are posing each in their own club shirt to make a selfie on the boulevard. And while the fanatics of Chelsea and Arsenal are missed, I count dozens of shirts from other clubs around Europe.
The fact that I see people with football shirts tells me a match is played today. Otherwise you wouldn’t know. Olympic Stadium is a modern ground far from the city center at some boring piece of land. A mediocre show with a DJ is the kickoff. Thousands of empty seats “watch” it in silence. Most of the tourists seem not to care as well. I think that the noise I hear sometimes comes from the speakers instead of the crowd. The UEFA had practiced with it a couple of days earlier.
Around the ground
The first half is sleep-inducing. Our Russian friend next to us can’t take it anymore. While his beer is dripping on the concrete, he falls asleep. Arsenal is the better team, but there is not much to enjoy. A shot from outside the box barely hits the post, the highlight of the first 45 minutes. We decide to go for a challenge. See if we can go around the stadium starting in the top tier (long side, 3rd tier) and go all the way down to the other side.
The first part is easy. One stairs down. Going from the long side to the short side is not possible at first. The hallway is blocked by a wall. The doors are closed. We go back onto the stands. It turns out to be much easier here. Nothing stops us from moving from one section to the other. In no time we are standing between the Arsenal supporters. Another stairs down and we are on the top walking promenade. So far so good, we are half way.
Security doen’t seem to care at all. They are more busy with watching the match. To reach the lower promenade we need to be more bolt. We exit the stadium and go back in directly at a different gate. A young steward tries to stop us, but he quickly finds out it’s useless. His colleagues don’t move an inch to help him out. From here it is easy to walk to every corner of the stadium, which is bizar. There is no safety check or whatsoever. If you think about it, if I had very bad intentions it was very easy to cause a whole lot of problems.
In the mean time Chelsea smashes Arsenal in 15 minutes. The last bit of hope is quickly shot to pieces by Hazard, 4-1. Baku decided in the mean time to open all gates and let people in for free, trying to fill the huge amount of empty seats. They did not succeed while UEFA didn’t know they even tried.
A lot of people left the stadium before the final whistle. As soon as the ref ended the game, almost the entire stadium left. A poignant decor for presenting the trophy. Apparently tourist don’t want to wait for this. No surprise that this is done rather quickly. I have the idea I have just watched a summer friendly match. Some lucrative tournament to prepare for the new season.
Chelsea is a club nowadays which fits perfectly in this elite bullshit. There are no celebrations plannend in London whatsoever. So your supporters can not make the trip to Baku and you also take their trophy celebrations. The Europe League is not important enough. The arrogance in a shitty season of The Blues.
When incapable people manage the world of football, these kind of excesses will become the new standard. Defending this kind of bullshit is just ridiculous. No shrink can fix this kind of bullshit from the elite. Luckily for the UEFA the world talks about the Champions League final now, so they don’t have to hide behind the curtains anymore.