Human rights organization Amnesty International has increased pressure on UEFA by saying Azerbaijan must not be allowed to “sportswash its appalling human rights record” by staging high-profile football matches, AP reported.
According to Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen, “fans will be glued to their TVs during this game but we must ensure that Azerbaijan isn’t allowed to ‘sportswash’ its appalling human rights record as a result of the football fanfare. Azerbaijan is in the grip of a sinister human rights crackdown, with journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders being ruthlessly targeted. Unfair trials and smear campaigns remain commonplace.”
According to her, LGBTI people have been arrested, and even people fleeing the country have been harassed and pressured to return.
“All too often, governments are using high-profile sporting competitions to distract attention from repressive policies and human rights violations, to instead project an image of openness. This couldn’t be further from the truth with the current administration, and the Arsenal-Chelsea clash is just the latest reminder of this,” she added.
As reported earlier, the Azerbaijani government refused to issue visas to UK fans of Armenian origin.