Press conference

Wenger on referees, handballs and penalties

In the wake of that controversial late penalty at West Brom, it was no surprise that Arsene Wenger was asked about refereeing standards in his press conference on Tuesday.

The Arsenal manager discussed the way the profession has developed, and this is what he told the media:

on if he’s spoken to the refereeing governing body after West Brom penalty…

No. My job is to stand up for the results. Part of that is as well to stand up for things I’m not responsible for. You could argue as well that sometimes I get credit for things I’m not responsible for as well. Unfortunately that’s the case. It was very disappointing in the way it happened. I must say what is more frustrating for me is that it happened many times this season - at Stoke, at Watford, at Man City, at West Brom. That is a concerning coincidence for me. That’s why I was not happy at all with the movement that the referee made to show why he gave the penalty, because that didn’t correspond at all with what happened. On that front, it’s a bit worrying.

on whether he was given an explanation…

No, he saw what he wanted to see and we have to deal with that. We have to put that behind us and focus on our next game, not to dwell on it. Focus completely on our next game, I think we had a convincing result at Crystal Palace and we would have won this game as well, so let’s continue to focus on how we play and to win the games.

on whether there is widespread concern among managers about refereeing standards…

I said that many times, but I just think they are professional, which is fantastic because I stood behind that with all my power at the time to afford them to be professional. I support that, so you also expect the quality because they are in a division where they can be the best and of course there are only two countries where there are professional referees in Europe and that’s England and Italy. Of course you want them to have the time to improve and raise their level. What is maybe not confirmed, not only by my judgement but as well by the referees judgement.

on how many other PL managers agree with him about standard of refereeing…

I don’t know. I would say the referees [need to worry about it] first. Who assesses the referees who go to the World Cup? The referees. That’s the conclusion. I’m not good enough to judge referees, I just give facts. That’s facts.

on whether all ‘handballs’ in a box should count as penalties to clear up the rule…

I don’t think that would be the way because you have to put things into perspective. To score a goal in football, you need to sometimes make 25 good passes and that demands some quality, to be able to then create that goal chance. For me to just give a goal away because somebody kicks the ball at your hand would be ridiculous. The oldest rule in the game is the best. It has to be a deliberate handball and that’s it, basically. If you want to create a goal chance, even if it’s a fast game, you need to play football. Then suddenly, because somebody hits your hand on purpose - they just need to lift the ball to anybody’s arm in the box - it’s a goal. It’s not serious.

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