The European enforcement agency’s report stated some 380 matches were under investigation, including one 2009 Champions League game in England between Liverpool and Hungarian club Debrecen. While there has never been any suspicion of wrongdoing by anyone at Liverpool, who won the match in question 1-0, Wenger feels the whole situation must act as a wake-up call to the English game.
“It was absolutely a surprise [to hear] the number of games that have been fixed. For me, it is a real tsunami and a real shock,” the Arsenal manager said yesterday. “I cannot accept it. I always was a believer that there is a lot of cheating going on in our game and that we are not strong enough with what happens, nor with the doping, nor with the corruption of the referees, nor with the match-fixing. It is time that we tackle this problem in a very serious way and that people who cheat are punished in a very severe way as well.
“Sport is full of legends who are in fact cheats. We had a recent example again (in cyclist Lance Armstrong) and we all have that responsibility to fight against that.”
Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was fined £12,000 by the Football Association yesterday for comments he made about a linesman, but avoided a touchline ban.
Ferguson had been charged with misconduct after describing linesman Simon Beck’s performance as “shocking” when he failed to flag for a penalty after Wayne Rooney was brought down in the area in United’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur last month.
In a television interview after the Premier League match, Ferguson also made reference to an incident in a previous match against Chelsea when Beck was on duty. Ferguson had denied the misconduct charge. He could have faced a touchline ban of up to four matches and will be glad this did not materialise as he seeks to guide leaders Manchester United to a 20th league title.