(Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has criticised the choice of Baku as the venue for this month’s Europa League final and said soccer’s European governing body UEFA needed to address the way it selected host cities.
Fans of London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea face a more than 8,000 km round trip to attend the all-Premier League clash next to the Caspian Sea in the Azerbaijan capital on May 29.
While Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur supporters have expressed their annoyance at the eye-watering prices for air fares and hotel rooms for the Champions League final in Madrid, Klopp said Chelsea and Arsenal fans had it even tougher.
“I think with Madrid it’s unbelievably expensive that’s clear, but going to Baku for a Europa League final, that’s really funny,” Klopp told reporters on Friday, as questions veered away from his side’s potential domestic title decider against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Sunday.
“I think these guys who made these decisions, I don’t know what they had for breakfast really when they did it.
“Last year we went to Kiev (for the Champions League final) which is a wonderful city but it was not really likely a Russian team or a team from that part of the world would be involved.”
With no direct flights to Baku from London, fans face journey times of up to 14 hours depending on connections.
“These decision they must be much more sensible,” Klopp said. “It looks irresponsible, I don’t know how they do it and I sympathise a lot with the fans.”
The Tottenham and Liverpool fan organisations issued a joint statement on Friday condemning the cost of getting to the June 1 final in Madrid, saying “supporters’ joy has been tempered by the extortionate costs of travel, accommodation and tickets”.
Return air fares have spiralled to as much as 1,500 pounds while rates for hotel rooms in the Spanish capital have reached eye-watering levels.
Even Tottenham’s Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was having trouble finding accommodation for his family.
“Yesterday I was calling some hotel in Madrid to try to book some rooms because I don’t know if my family is going to be there, friends, people from Argentina,” he told a news conference. “But it was very difficult.
“The prices are crazy. It’s not normal, but it’s normal that people take this opportunity to benefit and I am suffering for both sets of fans, ours and Liverpool’s.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)