Wenger takes swipe at World Cup teams 'focused on demonstrations'

Arsene Wenger said on Sunday that teams who focused on football rather than "political demonstrations" fared better in the opening round at the World Cup.

AFP , Sunday 4 Dec 2022,
Former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger stands on the tribune before the World Cup group G soccer match between Serbia and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. AP


The former Arsenal manager is now working for FIFA as its head of global football development and made the remark unprompted during a press conference looking at trends during the now-concluded group stage in Qatar.

"When you go to a World Cup you know you must not lose the first game," said the 73-year-old, saying teams with World Cup experience such as holders France won their opening matches.

Wenger then added: "And the teams as well who were mentally ready, who had the mindset to focus on the competition and not on political demonstrations."

Germany's players covered their mouths for the team photo before their opening match against Japan in protest at FIFA's refusal to allow the captains of seven European sides to wear rainbow-themed armbands.

The four-time champions lost the game 2-1 and eventually exited in the group stages.

This World Cup has been overshadowed by several controversies both on and off the pitch, especially when it comes to gay rights.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer was among the skippers who had planned to wear rainbow-themed armbands to promote diversity, but abandoned the initiative after FIFA threatened their teams with sporting sanctions.

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