Wenger aims to capitalise on 'luck' to launch title run
Arsene Wenger has likened Fifa's World Cup bidding process to something from the "Middle Ages" and admitted that he was rendered speechless by the failure of England's 2018 campaign.
The Arsenal manager had been an active campaigner for England's bid and was so upset by Thursday's outcome that he immediately turned off his TV without even waiting to hear that Qatar had won the right to host the 2022 tournament.
"I am very sad -- I don't believe that Fifa was really conscious of how much it meant to people here," said Wenger. "The bid team put some unbelievable work in.
"I don't understand. The way to decide looked to me a little bit from the Middle Ages. It doesn't look right in modern life that people have to go over there and lobby and say, 'please believe in us'.
"Frankly, it looks a little bit that you have to flatter them to get the World Cup. I don't think that is right. You would like to have much more technical than human criteria. It is difficult to explain to people that the technical bid of England was perfect but you get only two votes. That is not rational."
Wenger would like the bidding system reformed so that each country is assessed against a set of clearly defined criteria. "You could imagine that you have 100 criteria with different weights and you put it in a computer and the best comes out," he said. "The fact that a country has never hosted the World Cup before could be one of the criteria, but that cannot be the only one that is taken into consideration.
"Russia is certainly a great candidate and congratulations to them, but we all do not know why England's bid has failed so much and on what criteria.
"In modern life, you have to work to get all suspicion out. Is the suspicion right or wrong? I don't know, but you don't want a vote of that importance to be suspect."
Arsenal play Fulham today, with Wenger urging his team to take advantage of the good fortune that has helped them remain in the Premier League title race despite three home losses already this season.
"We must take this chance even more because we have the luck to still be in there," said Wenger. "This is where the race starts and we are in a good position. It's a defining moment in the season."
Wenger intends to shake hands with Mark Hughes following his refusal to acknowledge the then Manchester City manager after their Carling Cup quarter-final last year. "It was a one-day incident that I have shaken off," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)