Olivier Giroud says 'every team has four or five smokers'
Olivier Giroud, the Arsenal striker, has claimed that in every football or rugby team there are four or five people who smoke – and that non-smokers are not shocked at their team-mates' habits.
Giroud, who does not smoke himself, was talking to the French sports daily L'Equipe, who had asked about the recent tobacco-related controversies involving Wojciech Szczesny and Jack Wilshere.
"Everyone knows that there are a lot of players who smoke," said Giroud.
"In every team there are four or five. It doesn’t shock me. In rugby, they also smoke. And nobody is shocked."
Players smoking is an issue that has dogged Arsène Wenger's side in recent years. Jack Wilshere has been photographed twice with a cigarette, outside a London nightclub in 2013 and again at a Las Vegas pool party during a post-World Cup break with Joe Hart last summer.
Wilshere said of the pool party controversy: “The smoking? Of course I regret it. I have been seen before doing it. I said then I made a mistake and I have made a mistake again. People make mistakes.
"I am young and I will learn from it. I realise the consequences it has and the effect on kids growing up.
“I have kids myself and I don’t want them growing up to think their dad smokes and it is okay for a footballer to smoke, because it’s not. It is unacceptable and I will accept the consequences and I will move on.”
But Wilshere was then pictured holding a shisha pipe – echoing then-team-mate Marouane Chamakh's transgression in 2012 – at a nightclub in early February.
That came just a month after Szczesny found comfort after a disappointing performance against Southampton in the Premier League on New Year's Day by lighting up in the showers at St Mary's.
“Players here are judged on their performances," the Szczesny incident led Wenger to say. "Ideally, the best way to have a high level of performance as possible is to follow the rules that allow you to perform.
"Human beings are human beings, with their strengths and weaknesses. We know this is not good. Overall, these players are professional.”
Giroud's comments come before Arsenal face Monaco in the Champions League round of 16, and lining up against him will be Dimitar Berbatov, who is partial to the occasional cigarette himself.