Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has alleged that Germany’s political demonstrations played a role on their shock group stage exit in the World Cup.
Wenger, FIFA’s head of football development, admitted that the countries that focused on football and stayed away from off-field affairs have done well in the tournament so far.
This was Germany’s second consecutive group stage in the World Cup, reminiscent of their poor performance by Russia four years ago.
Before their first game against Japan, the German players covered their mouths during the team photo in protest against FIFA’s ban on the One Love bracelet.
Germany was one of several European parties planning to wear the rainbow bracelet to show support for the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are banned and homosexuality is punishable by death.
Wenger supports England
Speaking alongside former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in Doha, Wenger said: “You know when you go to a World Cup you know you can’t lose the first game.
The teams that have the experience to perform in tournaments like France and England played well in the first game. The teams that were mentally ready, with a mindset to focus on the competition, not the political demonstrations.”
England must concentrate
Wenger also claimed that England were affected by the off-the-field issues that led to their disappointing 0-0 draw against the USMNT, but he has backed Gareth Southgate’s side to go on a deep run in the tournament.
The 73-year-old Frenchman said: “England were absolutely excellent in the first game, they struggled in the second game against the United States and then they have to come back when needed to put in a convincing performance against Wales.”
He continued: “England have learned a lot. They were in the last four of the World Cup, the last two of the European Championship. Compared to Belgium, who are past the top, England seems to be a team that is now on top to perform.
Wenger added that Southgate has learned from his experience and is capable of performing in the biggest stages. “He’s like the team. He’s learned from the World Cup and European Championships and he’s in a good position to perform now. If everything goes according to plan, the two favorites England and France might meet.”
Photo credit: IMAGO/Nordphoto
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