CONMEBOL condemns comments on African football by Arsene Wenger

CONMEBOL condemns ‘ignorant’ comments on African football by Arsene Wenger… with the South American governing body also claiming making five substitutions permanent was taken ‘without consultation and debate’

  • Arsene Wenger has sparked fury with his comments on African football
  • Wenger said Kylian Mbappe would not be the player he is if he was born in Cameroon
  • CONMEBOL reacted angrily and conveyed its outrage in a letter to FIFA
  • The South American governing body is also unhappy with the five sub rule  

CONMEBOL has condemned comments made by FIFA’s chief of global development Arsene Wenger after the former Arsenal manager suggested the structures in place in Africa are insufficient for developing talent.

Wenger has sparked fury from the South American governing body, which has written to FIFA to convey its outrage at ‘the very unfortunate expressions of the high FIFA officer’.

Speaking during a recent coaching conference in Germany, Wenger said that if PSG and France star Kylian Mbappe ‘had been born in Cameroon, he wouldn’t have become the striker he is today’. Mbappe’s father, Wilfried, is originally from the African country.

He also claimed Europe is the only continent where players are able to reach their potential. 

Arsene Wenger (left) has been criticised for his comments on infrastructure in African football

Wenger suggested players in Africa and other continents other than Europe struggle to reach their potential

‘There’s Europe and there’s rest of the world,’ Wenger said. ‘The latter needs help, otherwise we’re going to miss a great deal of talent.’ 

CONMEBOL said Wenger’s comments ‘beyond showing an unusual ignorance about the valuable input of African players in world soccer, and particularly in Europe, show a denigrating twist that hides the effort of footballers and sporting institutions that are not in Europe’.

‘Just like Africans, we South Americans know first hand that kind of behaviour that comes from the belief that the world begins and ends in Europe,’ CONMEBOL added.

Wenger said if PSG and France star Kylian Mbappe ‘had been born in Cameroon, he wouldn’t have become the striker he is today’

Wenger’s words are the latest slight on Africa made by a high-ranking FIFA official. President Gianni Infantino was met with widespread criticism in January after he suggested since-abandoned plans to hold the World Cup every two years instead of every four could stop African migrants from finding ‘death in the sea’.

The South American organisation also criticised a decision to allow teams to make five substitutions per game on a permanent basis, which it claimed ‘took place without a process of consultations and debate’.

Wenger has been driving several changes to football’s rules in recent years, such as trialling kick-ins to replace throw-ins in a move designed to improve the speed of the game.

CONMEBOL, led by president Alejandro Dominguez, is unhappy with the five sub rule being permanent

The legendary Gunners boss, who moulded their ‘Invincibles’ of 2004, believes it is actually a disadvantage to the attacking team to obtain a throw-in late in the match. 

The International Football Association Board has agreed to bring forward other measures designed to quicken the pace of the game, including semi-automated offsides, which should reduce delays currently associated with VAR. 

Sportsmail has contacted FIFA for comment. 

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