Quick links

Arsenal

I don't want Arsenal stars to play at London 2012, says Arsène Wenger

Arsène Wenger believes football has no place at the Olympic Games and said it would be "impossible" for players to appear next summer at the European Championship and London 2012.

The Arsenal manager has a clutch of young England players who could be in contention for both competitions, namely Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while the Wales captain, Aaron Ramsey, would surely come into the thoughts of the Team GB coach, Stuart Pearce, for the Games. Wenger feels that the summer schedule is ridiculous and he attacked those responsible for the organisation.

"The Olympic tournament is not a real football tournament," he said. "For me, the Olympics is for track and field, basically. If I asked you now who won the Olympic Games 20 years ago, you would have problems to tell me. If I asked you about the European Championship or the World Cup, you would know better.

"The Olympics start on 27 July and finish in mid-August. Imagine a player who has played at the Euros and the Olympic Games – you can't use him after that. It's impossible. The Euros finish on 1 July and we start training on 4/5 July. That means we will not have the players who were at the Euros and so if we are losing players to the Olympics as well, I think I will have to practise all summer to play because we will not have any players. It cannot work.

"If you look at the organisation of the whole summer, it makes life impossible for the club and for the players, especially. I don't know what people think when they organise these competitions."

Wenger said that the absence of a winter break in the English game would make the situation even worse for players in this country – "They would have to go around the clock until next May," he said – and he also noted the potential for a conflict of interests between national associations and clubs that must play Champions League qualifiers. He called for an open and sensible dialogue to address players on a case-by-case basis.

"I think it's a very bad idea to leave the decisions up to the players," Wenger said. "If a player decides if they will play or not [at the Olympics] … no matter what they decide, they could be found guilty towards their club or their federation. It is the job of the FA to sit together with clubs and analyse every single case and be a little responsible."

Wenger is acutely sensitive to the issue of player burn-out and he admitted that he needed to rest Robin van Persie, his captain, who has an erratic fitness record. The problem, though, is that the striker feels indispensable at the moment. He has scored 28 goals in 35 games for the club since the turn of the year. "On Monday, I decide always to rest him and on Friday, I play him again," said Wenger before Sunday's home game against Stoke City.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner, for guardian.co.uk on Friday 21st October 2011 23.05 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch