June 19 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, February 8, 2013
Arsene Wenger admitted today that he this week’s Europol revelations about widespread match-fixing have been “a real tsunami and a real shock”, but has claimed that sport is rife with cheats.
European Police revealed the results of an 18-week investigation into corruption this week, claiming that 680 games across the world are being scrutinised, including one Champions League match in England.
Added to that they suspect 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals of being involved.
Asked today whether he was surprised about the scale of the investigation, Arsenal manager Wenger said: “Completely. It was absolutely a surprise by the number of games that have been fixed.
“For me it’s a real tsunami and a real shock.
“I can’t accept it and I was always a believer that there is a lot of cheating in our game and that we are not strong enough with what happens.
“It’s time that we tackle this problem is a very serious way and that people who cheat are punished in a very severe way.
“Sport is full of legends who are, in fact, cheats.”
While manager of French side Monaco in the early 1990s, Wenger watched as Marseille beat them to the Ligue 1 title but then became embroiled in a match-fixing scandal involving president Bernard Tapie, who was later imprisoned. OM were stripped of the 1993 championship and later relegated to the second division over financial regularities.
Wenger said he slowly became aware of the problem over the course of two to three seasons in France.
“It happened in Europe before, that’s my belief that the referees were not always fair, especially in some countries,” he added.
“But you always have to be cautious. You have your own beliefs and then after you have to prove it.
“That becomes much more difficult because I was faced with this kind of problems before [while in charge of Monaco].
“I knew what was going on but when people say, ‘come on, show us the proof’, it’s always very difficult to come out with that.”
Asked if any club or person found guilty of this week’s corruption allegations should be banned from the game for life, Wenger said: “We had a recent example again and we all have a responsibility to fight against that.
“I don’t know the rule enough but you cannot accept that somebody, who works the whole week and decides to spend his money to go to a game, and you cheat him because all is decided before he gets to the stand.
“I cannot stand up for that and we cannot accept that.”
Yet the Gunners boss is certain that English clubs, players and officials are not involved.
He said: “I don’t think, at all, that it is a problem in the English game. That’s maybe why it’s a shock for us because we are all convinced that will live in a world, here, in England, and I don’t say it’s a perfect world, [but] I don’t think that match-fixing is a problem at all in England.
“And in fairness, I give you some credit for that because I know that the English media will be very, very harsh against that, and people know that as well.”
He added: “I personally feel that English football is clean of cheating – 100 per cent. I don’t think the referees are corrupt.”