UEFA announced on Thursday the life-long suspension of an executive from Azerbaijani football club Qarabag, over a hate message targeting Armenians amid the conflict between the two countries in Nagorno Karabakh. Nurlan Ibrahimov, head of communications for Qarabag, who had been provisionally suspended since November 3, was banned for life from “the exercise of any activity related to football,” said the disciplinary committee of the instance in a statement. Competent only for Europe, UEFA will “ask Fifa to extend this ban to the whole world”, and has also fined the club Qarabag 100,000 euros. UEFA’s internal justice system had been investigating for nearly a month the possible violation by Mr. Ibrahimov of two of its internal rules, namely “the basic rules of decent conduct” and the prohibition “of any racist conduct or discriminatory ”.
At the end of October, the Armenian Football Federation (FFA) demanded the exclusion of Qarabag from European competitions, claiming that its communications manager had called “to kill all Armenians, young and old, without distinction.” “He also justified the fact that Turkey had committed an Armenian genocide” in 1915 and 1916, assured the FFA in a statement. “Ibrahimov has already deleted his post, but hundreds of users have managed to see it and save it,” according to the FFA, which recalled complaining from several Azeri football officials to Fifa and the UEFA in October. The Azerbaijani club, which is due to host Turks from Sivasspor in the Europa League on Thursday, was founded in 1951 in the now abandoned Nagorno-Karabakh city of Aghdam. Due to the takeover of the region by Armenia in 1993, Qarabag has since moved to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.