Sport Soccer

Sunday 26 January 2020

Wenger risks UEFA charge by labelling ref 'incompetent'

Gary Jacob

ARSENE Wenger widened his attack on Martin Hansson last night as he challenged Uefa to be more transparent in its appointment of referees.

The Arsenal manager proposed the introduction of a published rankings system for officials, but he could be charged by European football's governing body for labelling the Swedish referee "incompetent."

Hansson helped to tee up a quick indirect free-kick for Porto to score their winning goal in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg tie on Wednesday, the latest entry in a catalogue of poor decisions that Wenger said he has witnessed as a manager.

"I believe that he is incompetent or dishonest," Wenger said. "I prefer to believe that he is incompetent." Wenger did not question the integrity of Hansson, but he wants Uefa to begin a debate about officials.


"A lot of things have to be clarified at Uefa," Wenger said. "First, how they nominate referees for games. They need to be more open how they rate the referees. No one knows how and why they name them. Where is the ranking of referees?

"Too much has gone on in the history of refereeing in Europe in the past 30 years (that) is not very good for football. A lot of things have to be done."

Briefly changing tack from inept refereeing to a subject with more sinister undertones, Wenger made an apparent reference to being the victim of corruption in the past.

"I have seen much worse (than bad officials) in my life -- my own players were bought by the opponent," he said. However, Wenger did not elaborate or give any details about the clubs to which he was referring.

He was a victim of a scandal in the early 1990s when in charge of Monaco. They finished runners-up to Marseilles three times in the French league. Marseilles were found to have offered bribes to Valenciennes players in 1993, but there is no suggestion that Monaco's players were bribed.

"I do not want to come out on the past," he said. "In my job, you always have reasons to become paranoid, so I do not want to go the way to think that people are not honest."

Wenger will believe that his team can overcome the 2-1 deficit against Porto at home on March 9, but that did not stop him consulting several other referees about Hansson's application of the laws. Wenger was told by them that five technical mistakes were made by Hansson.

"He did not give the free-kick at the point where it happened," Wenger said. "He did not stand in the right position. He did not put the players at the proper distance. Then he should not have given a quick free kick once he is in the middle of the action. He didn't raise his arm (for an indirect free kick) until it was too late. It is ridiculous."

Arsenal play Sunderland at the Emirates today and Wenger said that the need to gain ground on the top two means that he cannot rest Cesc Fabregas, his captain.

"I am worried. Cesc is under a lot of pressure for such a young boy. He should be normally living in the shadow of the experienced players," Wenger said. (© The Times, London)

Arsenal v Sunderland,

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