Germany’s political protests to blame for early World Cup 2022 exit, suggests Arsene Wenger

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, believes Germany’s “political demonstrations” at the World Cup contributed to the nation’s surprise group-stage exit.

The former Arsenal manager was speaking in Doha, alongside Jurgen Klinsmann, and was asked about the shock results seen in Qatar thus far, with Belgium and Uruguay joining Germany in an early exit while the likes of Australia and Japan advanced.

Ahead of their first game, Germany’s players covered their mouths during the team photo and wore warm-up tops with rainbow-coloured sleeve stripes in protest over Fifa’s ban on the One Love armband.

Germany were one of several European nations, including England, who had been planning to wear the rainbow armband in Qatar in a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community in a country where homosexuality is illegal, only for Fifa to threaten player punishments if they did so.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wenger attributed Germany’s second successive group-stage exit, in part, to such demonstrations. He said: “You know when you go to a World Cup, you know you can’t lose the first game. The teams who have the experience to perform in tournaments like France and England played well in the first game.

“The teams who were mentally ready, with a mindset to focus on competition, and not the political demonstrations.”

Wenger believes England were also affected by the ongoing conversations around Qatar’s human rights record during their disappointing 0-0 draw with the United States, but has backed them to go far in the tournament.

“For the teams that have not been consistent visually, England is one of them,” he added. “England was been absolutely outstanding in the first game, they struggled in the second game against the States and then they have back when needed to give a convincing performance against Wales.

“There have been big ups and downs. None of the big countries has been so disappointing.

“England has learned a lot. They have been in the last four of the World Cup, the last two of the Euros. Compared to Belgium which is past the peak, England looks to be a team that is now at the peak to deliver.

“It has learned and is still a young team.”

He added: “Gareth Southgate is a very intelligent man, who is capable to analyse the games well and his own performances as a coach.

“He is like the team. He has learned from the World Cup and the European Championship and he is now in a good situation to deliver. If all goes as planned, the two favourites of England and France might meet.”

Klinsmann was in agreement with Wenger, adding: “The England situation is very fascinating to all of us as we see a progression from Russia’s World Cup where they went into the last four and we thought they had it at the Euros where the last piece was missing.

“I am sure Gareth has only one goal and that’s to win it.”