Togo attack: Arsene Wenger warns of clubs' self-interest over security fears
Arsene Wenger has warned that there is a real risk of Premier League clubs being influenced by self-interest in calling for their players to immediately return home from the African Cup of Nations.
The Arsenal manager is adamant that, providing there is no clear security threat, the competition must be allowed to go ahead and stressed that people in England were not best placed to judge the situation in Angola.
Asked if there was a danger of clubs using the shooting of the Togo team-bus to their own advantage, Wenger said: “There is. That’s why I don’t want to do it. It wouldn’t be fair, let’s say that.
"Behind things like that, is it a selfish motivation or is it a real issue over security? We, here, are not in the best position to judge the security of this competition.”
Hull City and Bolton, who are battling relegation, have both suggested that their African players should come home. Wenger, though, says that he “hates” society’s culture of fear and has urged perspective in assessing this terrorist incident.
“If you organise the European Championship and you have an incident like that — it can happen and has happened — you do not want all your players suddenly to move home,” he said.
“When you hear sometimes there’s unrest in the suburbs of London, you still live well in London. When I speak to my friends in France, they ask me: 'Is a revolution happening in London?’ It’s the same in Paris.
"You immediately think it’s a revolution everywhere. It’s not always the case. You have to judge the place, whether the competition can go on or not, and I don’t know enough about the situation.
“We won’t be asking Fifa to release our players. I don’t believe you can just stop any competition for any incident because that would be a reward. It would mean any competition could be stopped at any time. The competition has still to go on if the security is well respected in the country.”
Steven Pienaar, Everton’s South African midfielder, described the shootings as “a disgrace” for the African continent. “Football is supposed to bring the continent together,” he said. “People love the game in Africa, they live for football. An incident like this is disappointing but I think the tournament should go ahead.
“I know this area quite well. Angola is a country which has been dismantled through civil war over the years. It’s just sad. Every country deserves to be host nation and if you win the bid the people have to work at it.”
Pienaar is also certain that the incident will not affect the World Cup in South Africa later this year. “It will definitely not have any impact — it is something that’s happened,” he said.
“I understand how people might be worried. They have seen what has happened and think it might happen in South Africa. But South Africa and Angola are two different worlds apart. This would not happen in South Africa.”