By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger wants to see more respect in football in 2013 - on and off the pitch.

Sportsmanship - or the lack of it - is back on the agenda after Marouane Fellaini was suspended for a headbutt on Ryan Shawcross during last weekend's game between Everton and Stoke City.

The two players clashed regularly at the Britannia Stadium, often grappling each other in the penalty area to gain an advantage at corners.

Wenger admits it's often tough for referees to spot the instigator.

"It is a very difficult situation," he said. "The referees cannot see what’s happening for all the players. Even when you look at it on slow-motion, it’s true that the defenders sometimes grab the strikers, but it is true that the strikers push or grab the defenders away.

"It’s difficult sometimes to see who made the foul first. Both makes fouls. It’s difficult to see who made the first. Most of the time, it’s the defenders.

"In England it’s part of the game. I like the fact that [there] is a real battle going on in the box. When it goes overboard, the referee has to intervene. It’s part of the commitment of the English game as well."

All the same, Wenger believes bad sportsmanship would be alleviated if players and supporters showed more respect to one another.

"I believe [to] have more respect inside the stadiums without losing the passion [would help]," he said.

"Respect for everything, for the players, from the players, for each other, for the fans, from the fans, for the referees - just more respect without losing the passion.

"In England, the passion is linked with the [tribal] behaviour. You wouldn’t want that passion to be lost, but you can still develop respect."

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20 Dec 2012