By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger says the Marlon King case should not be allowed to besmirch the reputation of all footballers.
On Thursday, the Wigan forward received an 18-month prison sentence for sexual assault and actual bodily harm after an incident in a nightclub in December.
The story has been front page news and does nothing for the image of the game but Wenger argues the player’s profession is immaterial to the crime.
“If he is a footballer or not, it has nothing to do with what Marlon King did,” said the Frenchman. “He is an individual and if you do what he has done, the fact that he has played football has nothing to do with it.
“People are very quick to generalise about footballers but it is an isolated incident and I do not want to interfere in that. I don’t really know what happened but a man is always more than just the job he does.”
Immediately after the case, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan declared that King would never play for his side again. However, at his Friday press conference, Wenger said the 29-year-old should be allowed to continue his career once he had paid his debt to society.
“When he has paid his sentence, of course you would consider signing someone like that,” said Wenger.
“Otherwise you would never forgive anybody anything. When he has paid his sentence, some clubs if they want will take him.”Copyright 2013 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 30 Oct 2009