Saturday 24 August 2019

Dinamo Zagreb coach hits back at Arsene Wenger after Gunners boss calls for Champions League ban

Zoran Mamic
Zoran Mamic

Mark Bryans

Dinamo Zagreb coach Zoran Mamic has told Arsene Wenger he should write his own rules if he wants to see the Croatian side kicked out of the Champions League.

Wenger called for the regulations to be altered after Dinamo midfielder Arijan Ademi was banned for four years after failing a drugs test following their 2-1 Champions League victory over the Gunners in September.

The Macedonia midfielder has pleaded his innocence but was hit with UEFA's harshest punishment.

Despite that, Dinamo have not been disqualified from the competition as three or more players must test positive for such a punishment to be doled out.

Since defeat in Croatia, Arsenal have lost two further games and their progression into the latter stages of the Champions League no longer lies in their own hands.

Wenger's side need to beat Zagreb on Tuesday night to keep alive any hopes of making it to the knockout stages.

The Frenchman has been outspoken about doping for many years and said it was 'strange' that Dinamo were allowed to continue in the competition - although his counterpart did not agree.

"Mr Wenger can think and talk about what he wants but there are other people who make decisions about that and that will be in the future," said Mamic, whose side will be appealing Ademi's ban.

"I can suggest him to write the rules for UEFA. I think this situation is not the point of this press conference so we don't need to talk about Ademi."

UEFA's regulations side with Mamic as Wenger's comments brought a response from European football's governing body, pointing to the relevant section of the WADA code and the governing body's use of blood tests in addition to urine tests.

UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto said in a statement released to Press Association Sport: ''UEFA's anti-doping regulations regarding the consequences for teams for doping offences are strictly in accordance with article 11 of the WADA code that states that 'where more than one team member in a team sport has been notified of a possible anti-doping rule violation, the team shall be subject to target testing for the event. If more than two team members in a team sport are found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation during the event, the team may be subject to disqualification or other disciplinary action'.

''Blood testing is a key part of UEFA's anti-doping arsenal. UEFA has in fact been blood testing since 2008. In the 2014-2015 season, UEFA carried out 2,318 tests - 2,024 urine tests and 294 blood tests.''

While Wenger said in a recent interview with L'Equipe Sport & Style that he feared doping in football was an issue, Mamic again disagreed and insisted that it is correct for the 2-1 victory in the opening group game to not be overturned.

"Of course," he said when asked if it was fair the result stands in the wake of Ademi's ban.

"I don't think there is a problem with doping in football. There are cases in football but they are rare. I think there is something going on, what I know is going on, what I read, football is quite a clean sport."

The win over Arsenal in September means Dinamo sit above the Premier League side - who are bottom of the group with two matches remaining.

A home defeat to Olympiacos and a 5-1 thrashing at Bayern Munich means the Gunners are now outsiders to reach the knock-out stages for a 17th successive season - and Mamic admits he did not expect such struggles for Wenger's side.

"Of course it is quite a surprise," he added.

"I was quite sure like most people that (Arsenal) would be on top of the group, I'm sorry for Arsenal but they still have chances if they win tomorrow - we will try and make the job difficult.

"I think Arsenal are too good and too experienced so they won't feel any pressure. They will do everything to win tomorrow's game. They play big matches every week."

PA Media

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