Nobel Arustamyan, a Russian-Armenian journalist for the Russian Match TV channel has been banned from covering the UEFA European Championship by Azerbaijan’s organizing committee over his visits to the Republic of Artsakh, sparking outrage in Moscow, reports The Moscow Times.
Arustamyan said that Azerbaijan’s organizing committee has denied him accreditation for UEFA Euro 2020 that is being organized in 11 European cities including the Azerbaijani capital, Baku. The approval of the 11 national organizing committees is necessary for journalists to be accredited.
Elkhan Mammadov, the Vice President of the Azerbaijani Football Federation, confirmed his country was behind the refusal. “This person has repeatedly visited the occupied lands of Azerbaijan for many years and during these visits did not receive permission from the relevant structures of Azerbaijan,” Mammadov told journalists.
“He violated the laws of our country, showing disrespect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” added Mammadov.
Azerbaijan’s move to block Arustamyan’s accreditation sparked outrage among Russian journalists and elicited a protest from his channel.
“The refusal of a regional federation to approve the name of our commentator is a violation of the spirit of the international sports movement,” said Tina Kandelaki, the general producer of Match TV.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the ministry had “worked all night” with UEFA to ensure Arustamyan is allowed “to exercise his professional activities.” Adding that she believes “a solution will be found.”
The UEFA European Championship will be held from June 11 to July 11. Baku is among the 11 European cities to host the tournament along with London, Munich, Saint Petersburg, Rome, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Budapest, Amsterdam, and Seville.
The tournament will still retain the name “UEFA Euro 2020,” as it was originally scheduled from June 12 to July 12, 2020. The tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and rescheduled for June 11 to July 11, 2021.
Azerbaijani laws prohibit the entry into its territory of those who have visited Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) without permission from Baku.
In 2019, Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed, for security reasons, the Europa League final between his then team Arsenal and Chelsea that was played in Baku.
Vasily Utkin, Arustamyan’s college also posted about the matter, his message runs as follows,
“If there is bestial injustice in the world, then here it is. Nobel Arustamyan actually does not work for the Euro. He is not accredited. Nobel is NOT ACCREDITED!!!
Because all local organizing committees, in all countries, must give the go-ahead for accreditation. And Baku blocked Nobel. Who, by the way, is a native of Baku.
What is this, if not deprivation of a person from pursuing his profession according to a combined national-conviction principle? It is clear that Nobel would not have gone to work in Azerbaijan. Now he will not go to London or Amsterdam. Because there are such beasts in the world. Euro Organizing Committee in Baku, accept the rays of my icy contempt.”