The general secretary of the Azerbaijan Football Association has fired back at Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp over his questioning the decision to have the UEFA Europa League final in Baku, the nation's capital.
Per Paul Gorst of the Liverpool Echo, the secretary, Elkhan Mammadov, disagreed that there should be a geographical limit on where finals take place.
"I was unpleasantly surprised by the remarks of Jurgen Klopp. He always gave an impression of a very positive person. Moreover, we all know that he is a great specialist who has achieved really outstanding results in football.
"But with all this, I strongly disagree with his opinion that football should be geographically limited. We must respect and promote the values of football. And one of our main values is the expansion of the boundaries of football and its globalisation.
"Europe has long gone beyond the borders of the countries of the western part of this continent. And I am convinced that holding European Championship matches and European Cup finals in Eastern Europe opens up new opportunities for developing football in these countries, serves to make it more popular among the younger generation, attracts young people to football.
"The same can be said about the organisation of the Champions League final in Kiev or 10 years [14 years] ago in Istanbul."
He went on to state Seville and Istanbul were also candidates to host the final, with no city nearer London stepping up.
Per Gorst, Klopp said the decision-makers have to be "more sensible and reasonable" when awarding finals to cities, and while he bemoaned the high costs of having a final in Madrid, the Spanish capital is "not in another part of the world."
Klopp and the Reds will face Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid on June 1.
The Mirror's David Maddock shared part of his comments:
Arsenal manager Unai Emery also voiced his disapproval, wishing the final was played closer to London, as it will be contested by the Gunners and Chelsea on May 29. Per the report, the two teams have been allocated just 12,000 tickets each for a stadium that seats almost 70,000.
ESPN UK illustrated the enormous travel distance on Twitter:
The city of Baku has invested heavily in sports in recent years. The Formula One Grand Prix of Azerbaijan has been held on a street circuit since 2017, with the track seeing its first use a year earlier for the European Grand Prix.
There will also be four Euro 2020 matches in Baku, all at the Olympic Stadium, which opened in 2015. The stadium has no regular tenant at club level, as Qarabag only use it in European competitions.