The controversy surrounding the venue of the recent Europa League final is one that will not disappear soon, but the UEFA president has launched a defense of their decision to hold the game in Baku.
After Chelsea and Arsenal confirmed their spot in the ultimate game, criticism came pouring down on the organization. Aleksander Ceferin has now hit back, slamming English clubs for getting "mad" over the location of the 2019 final.
The first of many complaints arose when the clubs were allocated only 6,000 tickets each. Things got worse when ticketing and traveling issues meant the two London giants could only sell roughly half of those tickets.
The Gunners, in particular, were livid as they were forced to leave Henrikh Mkhitaryan behind due to the political tensions between the player's home country of Armenia and Azerbaijan. UEFA claimed to have planned a comprehensive security plan for the midfielder but the north London outfit was not sold on those assurances.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp even went public with his criticism of UEFA's selection process of host cities. Ceferin, in a talk at Oxford University, insisted that English clubs are known for being unreasonable.
"Whenever we have English clubs, whenever we have complaints, they're mad! You don't help yourself in the popularity within European football with that," he said, as per the Mirror.
"If somebody asks me why we played in Baku, I would say: 'People live there. Homo sapiens live there.'
"They had to watch the game at 11 pm because of the time difference but nobody complained."
"If we have two Azerbaijani teams playing in London nobody would complain. They would come and play without any problems," he added.
"We decided a year and a half ago that we play in Baku, which has a modern stadium of 70,000. I think there is only one stadium in England that is bigger.
"So you should see the happiness, the humbleness of people when they see live the superstars they like.
"We have to develop football everywhere not England, Germany only."
Despite this, the UEFA president admitted that a more fitting venue could have been chosen for the Champions League final, as the Wanda Metropolitano could not keep up with the demands of Tottenham and Liverpool fans. Spurs and the Reds were allocated only 16,000 tickets each and while he will not compromise on the Europa League venue selection process, he accepts change must come to Europe's top-tier club competition.
"My thinking now is we should play the finals in bigger stadiums — even if we go to the same four, five places.
"We had 62,000 tickets in Madrid and 980,000 requests. If we would play for example in Wembley we would have 30,000 more [tickets].
"Probably that as a top, top, top event should be played only at the top venues.
"But Europa League and everything else should be shared with the others who love football."
Ceferin did not address the controversy surrounding Mkhitaryan, which some argued merited a boycott from Arsenal. Emery's men went on to lose that final 4-1 to Chelsea as the heartbroken Armenian ace watched the nightmare unfold from his home.