Arsène Wenger says that the impact football has on today’s society is “absolutely incredible and sometimes scary”.

According to the latest statistics, the Premier League is broadcast to 212 territories around the world, with an estimated audience of 4.7 billion people.

We live in a little bubble here where we think about the next game, but our next game is a worry for fans in China, Africa and everywhere too

Arsène Wenger

Players are expected to be role models both on and off the pitch, but Wenger said it can be “overwhelming” to think about how they are perceived across the globe.

“I travel a lot, so I’ve been to Africa, and in areas where you could not even imagine that people would speak about football, and I saw a little boy in an Arsenal shirt,” he told Arsenal Player.

“I attended a conference at a university in Beijing, which was full of people all in Arsenal shirts. The impact and force that football has today is absolutely incredible and sometimes it is scary.

“We live in a little bubble here where we think about the next game, but our next game is a worry for fans in China, Africa and everywhere too. Sometimes we are not conscious of that and maybe it’s better that way.

“It’s true that sometimes in our little bubble we are protected and we just focus on the next game. It can become overwhelming when you realise how many people are sad all over the world when you don’t win a game.”

Read the full interview in March's Arsenal Magazine
Read the full interview in March's Arsenal Magazine

With so many people playing, attending and watching matches each week, Wenger believes football must harness its popularity to be a force for good.

“I believe the main quality of sport is that it's a positive force in our society - for many reasons,” he said. “One of the main reasons is that it gives happiness to youngsters.

Sport builds dreams for people, which is very important because those childhood memories stay with us for the rest of our lives

Arsène Wenger

“We have all been young, and I think some of the happiest moments we had as a child were when we were kicking the ball with our friends in the park. It makes us dream - sport builds dreams for people, which is very important because those childhood memories stay with us for the rest of our lives.

“Sport can help get you out of miserable conditions too. As a child you don’t think about whether you are rich or poor, you just want to play. You are on a level ground when you play football as a child. That's very positive and it gets children to enjoy themselves.

“Whatever their background, you have children going to bed at night and dreaming about being the hero on the football field, and that is something fantastic.

“Football, like sport in general, has a big advantage in that it gives people a public image of being together from different countries, and even from countries which are at war. It shows people that peace is possible and sport can be a peaceful force.

“I remember from the history books, that in the trenches in 1914, the German forces played football against the Allied forces at Christmas. Sport always takes over the negative aspects of life, and that's something fantastic.”

Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source
Rob Kelly 29 Mar 2016