By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger has launched a staunch response to criticism that his side are not 'flying the flag' for Britain in the Champions League.
On Thursday, West Ham manager Alan Pardew expressed his disappointment Arsenal had not fielded an English player when they became this country's last representative in the competition after knocking out Real Madrid at Highbury. He was concerned the game in this country could be damaged if this trend continued.
At his press conference ahead of the Liverpool game, Wenger responded to those comments in trenchant fashion.
"For me when you represent a club it's about values and qualities," he said. "It's not about passports. Unless you change rules, we do nothing wrong. Are we not respecting every rule that exists at the moment? That's why I don't accept that way of thinking.
"It's really disappointing for two reasons. First, we are kicking racism out of football and racism starts there. The second part is that players accept the technical opinion of a manager, but not that kind of remarks.
"It's a regressive way of thinking. I never would like to say to a player 'sorry, you are better, but you're not playing because you don't have the right passport'. It's just not acceptable unless the rules change or you do not want to make a [united] Europe.
"When, for example, Alan Pardew calls me at the beginning of the season and asks to have Jeremie Aliadiere on loan, he doesn't check if he's English or not. He just checks if he is good or not."
Copyright 2014 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 10 Mar 2006