Arsene Wenger claims nations who focused on World Cup and not ‘political demonstrations’ have had strongest mindset in Qatar

Arsene Wenger has caused a stir by suggesting that teams who focused on political matters around this World Cup had the wrong mindset.

he former Arsenal manager is now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development and he made the comments early on Sunday at a technical briefing to discuss the group stage of the competition.

Wenger was on stage with Jurgen Klinsmann taking questions when he made an unprompted reference to controversies that have hung over this competition.

The build-up was dominated by FIFA’s threats against the use of the ‘One Love’ armband which seven European sides were planning to wear.

This included Germany who chose to make a statement by putting their hands over their mouths in their team photo before their opening defeat to Japan, a reverse that proved costly.

Wenger cut in after Klinsmann gave a general response to a query around the impact of a short lead-up time to the tournament on account of the unusual timing.

“I would just add that the teams who were not disappointing with their first-game performance – when you go to the World Cup you know you must not lose the first game – are the teams who have experience, have results in former tournaments like France, like England, like Brazil: they played well in the first game,” he said.

“And the teams as well who were mentally ready like Jurgen said, who had the mindset to focus on the competition and not on political demonstration.’”

Wenger did not elaborate or specify. Germany were the only nation of the One Love seven to taste defeat in their opening match although Denmark did struggle in a draw with Tunisia.

The European teams weren’t the only ones affected by off-the-field matters as Iran players did not sing their anthem ahead of their opening 6-2 defeat to England on account of serious issues back home.

But it’s the Germans who have been on the receiving end of jibes because of their high profile stance.

Even Belgium skipper Eden Hazard offered the view that Hansi Flick’s side should have concentrated on the football.

Qatari TV have mocked the Germans after their exit with panellists on their main evening highlights show sarcastically imitating the gesture.


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