As his Arsenal side prepare for their trip to Cardiff on Saturday, Frenchman Arsene Wenger was in a defiant mood during his pregame press conference on Friday.
Amid match-fixing accusations and investigations in England’s lower-leagues, Wenger is adamant that “99.9 percent” of English soccer is clean.
“I don’t believe that in England people fix matches,” Wenger said in his meeting with the press. “But we live in an international world and you cannot just stop it at the border any more. It is a new problem that we all face.”
Fresh talk of betting scandals in the English game arises after three soccer players have reportedly been arrested in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into individuals fixing games, buying off players, referees and teams across the English game. Delroy Facey, once of Bolton Wanderers is amongst the players to be detained as English soccer tries to get to the bottom of, and stamp out, any irregularities threatening to ruin the fabric of England’s national sport.
Wenger believes despite the recent findings, English soccer across the board is in a much better place than many other nations.
“I still think that 99.9%, the English game is completely clean,” Wenger said. “When you see the happiness of the players when they score goals, even in the lower divisions, the passion of the fans when I was at Barnet for example, I can’t believe there is a match-fixing problem in England.”
In a defiant mood throughout speaking on the topic, Wenger obviously feels extremely strongly about the sporting integrity in his adopted nation. The Frenchman has coached in the Premier League since 1996 and believes the lower levels are where the problem could persist if more isn’t done to eradicate it.
“I think we absolutely have to fight against that with the strongest severity to get that out of the game,” Wenger said. “Maybe the lower divisions are a bit more under threat because it is a bit more anonymous, there is less money so it is easier to buy people, but I don’t think that exists in the Premier League at all.”