Arsène Wenger says he doesn’t expect to have any issues with racism when his side face BATE Borisov on Thursday night, and is hoping such an occurrence doesn’t happen.
Back in 2014, part of Borisov’s stadium was closed by UEFA because Brazilian striker Adriano heard racist abuse from the stands, saying that he “heard rude abuse…racist ones” and that the fans had committed “an ugly act”, reports the Daily Star.
Wenger responded to the issue by saying: “Look, no I don’t have any preconceived ideas. I hope that will not happen and UEFA has always been very strong to deal with that. BATE have a new stadium, they have a good crowd, so certainly it will be very loud.”
UEFA always make their stance on racism very clear at the stadium, with “no to racism” videos playing before matches at the Emirates and part of the pre-match announcements always dedicated to talking about how racism has no place in the game.
However, it’s another matter to actually punish those who are involved in chants. Clearly in 2014 UEFA managed to act, and Wenger claims they are strong on the issue. But we’ll have to wait and see if they’re consistently on the ball in this regard if anything happens this evening.
Hopefully, the teams will just be able to focus on the football. Arsenal currently sit top of Group H after winning their opening game 3-1 against FC Cologne. BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade drew their first match 1-1.
A loss tonight and Arsenal could fall as low as third. A draw or a win and Wenger’s side will remain in the qualification places.