Arsene Wenger. Photo Reuters
English football is "100 percent clean" with no corrupt
referees, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday as he
expressed his surprise at the extent of the global match-fixing
scandal that has cast a shadow over the game.
European police said on Monday that about 680 suspicious
matches, including qualifiers for the World Cup and European
championship and the Champions League, had been identified in
a match-fixing inquiry.
Wenger said he doubted the problem extended to sport in
"I personally feel English football is clean of cheating 100
percent," the Frenchman told reporters in his pre-match
briefing on the eve of Arsenal's visit to Sunderland in the
Premier legue on Saturday. "I don't think referees are
"In sport in general, I don't think at all it's a problem in
the English game," he added. "That's why it's maybe a shock
for us because we are convinced we live in a world in England
where it's not a perfect world but I don't think cheating or
match-fixing is a problem.
"It happened in Europe before, that is my belief, where
referees were not always fair, especially in some countries.
But you always have to be cautious, have your own beliefs,
prove it, and that becomes more difficult."
Wenger said it was time to tackle the problem "in a serious
way" because "sport is full of legends who in fact are
Referring to the findings of the European police match-fixing
inquiry he added: "It was absolutely a surprise... the number
of games that have been fixed.
"I can't accept it and I always was a believer that there's a
lot of cheating going on in our game and that we are not
strong enough with what happens, nor with the doping, nor
with the corruption of the referees, nor with the match
"It's time that we tackle this problem in a very serious way
and that people who cheat are punished in a very severe way