The long wait has ended. Tomorrow is May 29, 2019. In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, would be sworn in for a second term in office. In most states in Nigeria, it would also be the swearing in of newly elected governors among other political office holders for the next four years.
In the football parlance however, there is a different kind of fever; It is the all-English final of Europa League between Arsenal and Chelsea. Already, football fans have descended upon Baku in Azerbaijan as the Europa League final edges ever closer. Interestingly, both Arsenal and Chelsea fans have turned the Azerbaijani capital red and blue as it were, and a party atmosphere has emerged, with plenty of flag waving, and from the looks of things, plenty of beer.
There have been a few controversies surrounding the location, and it was not easy for some fans to get over there, but those who made it are having a great time in the buildup. Prices of flights to Baku from London, it was reported skyrocketed when Arsenal and Chelsea won their semi-final matches. Thousands of tickets went unsold and official travel options cost nearly £1,000. In addition to the travel drama, Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan did not make the trip to Azerbaijan and will miss the game amid fears over his safety. UEFA have warned Arsenal that any protests from their fans will not be tolerated.
Plus, it emerged that UEFA’s own report suggested that Baku was not a fit host for the Europa League final. Some fans made the trip early while others are still arriving on what has proved to be an expensive trip to the other side of Europe. However, there are now plenty of smiles as the fans gear up for the big match on Wednesday night.
Stalls have popped up selling scarves and other team merchandise as fans look to have a good time ahead of the Europa League final. Still though, there may be more of a muted atmosphere in the stadium than expected. Last week, both Premier League clubs had plans to send back a combined total of over 6,000 tickets – more than half their original allocations – having only managed to shift 3,500 and 2,000 respectively. The stadium has a capacity of 69,000, and there were initially complaints about the clubs being offered such a small percentage of tickets. The returned tickets have been put back on general sale, but it remains to be seen just how full the stadium will be for the final.