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Baku Kicks Off Preparations For UEFA Europa League Final Game

By Yaver Kazimbeyli May 14, 2018

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Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan

Sports officials in Azerbaijan have begun preparations for hosting the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Europa League final match, which will be held on May 29, 2019. President Ilham Aliyev called for the establishment of a special organizational committee for dealing with all necessary issues related to hosting what is the second most important European football (soccer) game.

The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) is responsible for carrying out all organizational procedures, preparing an action plan, and resolving any issues about hosting the game. AFFA should be in a steady coordination with UEFA officials throughout the entire preparation process.

Baku beat out six other cities in September of last year to host the 2019 UEFA final game - Glasgow, Seville, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Istanbul, and Tbilisi. The final will be held in the city’s ultra-modern Olympic Stadium. No European final has ever been staged as far east as Azerbaijan, a country on the western edge of the Caspian Sea bordering Russia to north and Iran to the south.

The Europa League final game will bring one of the most important club-level football events back to Caspian region after a 20-year break. The last time the match was held in the region was in 1999, in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, which hosted the second most important final game of UEFA in 1999.

The Baku Olympic Stadium is the largest sports complex in Azerbaijan and the third largest in the Caspian region, after Luzhniki in Moscow which seats 81,000, and Azadi stadium in Tehran, which seats 75,000. It is a UEFA Category 4 Stadium, meaning that it meets all UEFA and FIFA standards. Events held there already include the first pan-European universal sports tournament in 2015, the 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, and the fifth Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017. The arena will also stage four EURO 2020 games - three group stage and one quarterfinal.

The 2018–19 UEFA Europa League tournament will be the 48th season of Europe's UEFA tournament, second only to the Champions League competition. The winner will directly qualify for the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League group stage, and secure the chance of winning the next trophy in a Super Cup game with the winner of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League.