Away to Burnley in 2016, Laurent Koscielny scored in the last minute to win the game. Burnley manager Sean Dyche publicly questioned the referee’s competence after the game claiming the goal was both offside and handball.
Although such attacks on refereeing competence by managers were clearly prohibited at the time by the PL no action was taken.
It was one of those odd inconsistencies (for when Mr Wenger criticised the referee he was regularly sanctioned) for which PGMO has rightly become renowned.
Mr Wenger claimed that Arsenal were often involved in matches where the referee was incompetent (he generally avoided claiming the referee was dishonest) and did state that he felt the governing bodies of football had not done enough to eradicate corruption.
After a particularly awful game (from a refereeing point of view) against Porto, Wenger called on Uefa to clarify the criteria it uses for selecting officials, saying that this was particularly important in view of past incidents of corruption around the continent. “A lot of things have to be clarified at Uefa,” he said. “They have to be much more open about how they rate referees. Nobody knows really how or why they name them or how they rate them. The history of refereeing in Europe over the last 30 years is not very good for football. Too much has gone on.”
Indeed, European football has been afflicted by many incidents of corruption. One of the best-known surfaced in Portugal in 2004. Following investigations into the so-called Golden Whistle scandal officials from two clubs, Porto and Boavista, were found to have bribed or attempted to bribe referees. Porto were subsequently docked six points in 2008 and banned from competing in the 2008-09 Champions League, though the latter sanction was overturned on appeal.
Wenger himself was the victim of corruption in France in 1993, when his Monaco team finished runners-up in the league behind Marseille, who were subsequently stripped of their title and demoted after it emerged that the club’s president, Bernard Tapie, had masterminded a plot to pay players from an opposing team, Valenciennes, to throw the last match of the season. Wenger’s first-team coach at Arsenal, Boro Primorac, was the manager of Valenciennes at the time. No one from any other club was implicated in that scandal.
Wenger also revealed in an interview that he has managed a team in which players have been corrupted by opponents. “I’ve seen much worse [than Hansson’s alleged mistakes] in my life, my own players were bought,” he said. “I didn’t become paranoid. You have to trust people in my job.”
Wenger refused to identify the team or players that he believes were bought, saying, “I do not want to come out about the past.” Asked whether he believes corruption is still prevalent in Europe, he grinned and said: “In my job you always have to prove what you say. I don’t have anything to say. That’s good work for you to do. You can make good inquiries, it’s a very interesting subject.”
Perhaps the most interesting point is why the media has never taken this overt challenge up.