In the midst of Manchester City’s unprecedented financial cheating charges by the Premier League, it’s worth taking a minute to think back to what Arsene Wenger had to say about it all not that long ago.
In a 2020 interview, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressed his views on the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and the situation involving Manchester City at the time.
City were banned from European competition for two years by UEFA due to alleged rule breaches, but the ban was later overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Wenger, who managed Arsenal during City’s acquisition of several of his players, stated that respect for the rules is crucial in sports and any club found guilty of bending the rules should be punished.
He believes that the rules are in place for a reason and must be followed by all clubs in the competition.
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“They bought all my players! I think this is a big question, you know, I think sport is basically to win by respecting the rules,” Wenger said at the Laureus Awards in 2020.
“That’s what it is about. We celebrate the best in every sport but we want to know that they respect the rules.
“If there is no respect for the rules then it’s not real sport.
“The rules exist and you have to respect them. Once you go into a competition, it means you sign that you will adhere to the competition by respecting the rules.
“I was always for control over financial rules and that clubs work with the natural income they have, the rules that have been created. I’m convinced that at the moment there is evolution to be made in the way the rules are at the moment, but they are what they are and you have to respect them.
“The people who don’t respect them are caught by trying to get around the rules in more or less legal ways [and] have to be punished. If it’s proven that this has been done on purpose you cannot let that go unpunished.”
The former Arsenal manager also spoke about the correlation between financial outlays and success in football, highlighting the importance of sticking to the FFP rules.
He explained that historically, the wealthiest clubs have always won the championships and this trend has only become stronger in recent years.
“More or less the table is always linked with the amount of money clubs have, the turnover of the clubs,” said Wenger. “It has always historically been exactly the same. You could go through the history and it’s the richest clubs who win the championships.”
Wenger believes that there is still room for evolution in the FFP rules, but they must be respected nonetheless.
He concluded that if clubs are found to have intentionally violated the rules, they cannot be let off unpunished.
Arsene Wenger at Monaco amid Marseille’s financial shennaigans
Arsene Wenger managed Monaco from 1987 to 1994 and during his tenure, his team never finished outside the top three in Ligue 1.
In 1987-88, Wenger led Monaco to the Ligue 1 title by playing beautiful football with a strong spine and technically gifted players such as Glenn Hoddle in the centre of the park.
Wenger, as we know, had an eye for young talent and selected players like George Weah, Lillian Thuram, Youri Djorkaeff, Emmanuel Petit, and Thierry Henry at a young age.
However, in 1988-89, Marseille began to bribe officials and Monaco couldn’t compete with their financial power, leading to them being beaten to the title. Despite his successful time at Monaco, a poor start to the 1994/95 campaign led to Wenger being sacked as he lost five out of eight games played.
Marseille’s cheating during Arsene Wenger’s time at Monaco refers to their alleged use of bribery to influence officials and gain a competitive advantage.
It was during the 1988-89 season when Marseille began to challenge for the Ligue 1 title against Wenger’s Monaco side.
However, it was reported that Marseille bribed officials, which gave them an unfair advantage over Monaco and helped them win the title.
Wenger has spoken about this period of time in the past and has said that he still holds a grudge against Marseille for the alleged cheating.