Arsene Wenger was ‘brainwashed’ by FIFA, says Norwegian coach Stale Solbakken

Norway coach Stale Solbakken says Arsene Wenger was “brainwashed” into making “the stupidest statements” in his role at FIFA.

Earlier this month, former Arsenal manager Wenger was widely criticized after claiming teams that avoided ‘political protests’ at the World Cup performed better than those that didn’t. had not done.

The 73-year-old, who is currently Head of Global Football Development at FIFA, was speaking at the World Cup Technical Study Group briefing when he made the following comments.

“The teams that didn’t disappoint in their first game – because when you got to the World Cup you know you mustn’t lose the first game – are the teams that have experience, they have results…they played well in the first match,” Wenger said.

“Teams too who were mentally ready and had the mindset to focus on competition and not political protests.”

Solbakken has since responded to Wenger’s comments in an interview with Norwegian broadcaster TV2, and he didn’t waver in his assessment.

“It makes me shudder to see that the smartest man in the world, Arsene Wenger, who has been admired over the years, has somehow been brainwashed and is now making the dumbest statements,” a- he added.

“It’s scary with all the people we’ve looked up to in football for years. There’s a polarization going on at the moment. And I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.”

Before the tournament opened last month, Solbakken said more should have been done to prevent the World Cup in Qatar from happening.

“FIFA was the biggest failure,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is comfortable with that. My personal concerns are with the human rights issue and the way FIFA has handled it, which hasn’t been good.

“I don’t think football has done enough, I don’t think the journalists have done enough.

“It’s only been a few years since it’s suddenly ‘oh the World Cup in Qatar’. The first few years after it was handed over to Qatar, the whole world was more or less asleep, including footballers and journalists.

“We always had strong feelings towards Qatar and we tried to put pressure on FIFA and their political side.”

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Martin Odegaard and manager Stale Solbakken had announced that Norway would make a statement before the match.

“We are working on something concrete,” Solbakken said in a pre-match press conference.

“It’s about putting pressure on FIFA to be even more direct, even more firm with the authorities in Qatar, to impose stricter demands.”

Odegaard added: “I feel like a lot of (players) are interested in it, care about it and want to do something to try to contribute in a positive way.”

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