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- French association football player and manager
Arsene Wenger is facing the prospect of a stadium ban after being accused of questioning the integrity of referee Mike Dean and verbally abusing him in the official’s room after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Wenger was furious that West Brom were awarded a late penalty from which they equalised and, even after receiving a four game touchline ban last January for pushing Anthony Taylor, accusing him of “dishonesty” and, according to the official’s report, telling him to **** off, he still angrily confronted Dean.
It is understood that the Arsenal manager has been accused of swearing at Dean during an exchange in which the referee’s partiality was questioned. There is also a suggestion that Wenger may have entered Dean’s changing room before the 30-minute “cooling off” period that referees can insist upon.
Wenger was formally charged by the Football Association on Tuesday afternoon but, before that, he also escalated his already public criticism of Dean’s decision to award a penalty when Kieran Gibbs’s cross struck Calum Chambers’ arm. “This one is a bit of a farce,” said Wenger. “He sees what he wants to see. Some decisions that have happened to us this season are unbelievable.
“That is a concerning coincidence. I was not happy at all with the movement that the referee made to show why he gave the penalty, because that didn’t correspond at all with what happened. It’s a bit worrying.” Separate to the charge for confronting Dean, the FA will also now study these comments and may seek further explanation from Wenger. Managers can criticise a referee’s performance but not question their integrity.
The incident involved Dean has already been referred to an independent commission and Wenger has until 6pm on Friday to offer his own response. A decision is then likely to be made early next week but a fine, touchline ban and full stadium suspension are among the potential sanctions. The fact that it is less than a year since Wenger’s previous touchline ban – when Arsenal suffered in his absence – will also be taken into consideration.
Wenger was unrepentant on Tuesday in his wider assessment and, with a video assistant referee being trialled next Monday in the FA Cup, the Premier League have stressed that technology would have aided Dean. “The angle from which Mike Dean saw the incident made it look like Calum Chambers was attempting to handle to ball,” said a spokesman for the Professional Game Match Officials’ Board Limited. “If VAR had been in use, Mike would have made a more informed decision. He would have had the chance to see the reverse angle which shows the Arsenal defender was trying hard not to handle the ball.”
Wenger believes that there is still inconsistency in the interpretation of handball and says that referees should stop visiting the clubs in an attempt to clarify rules. “They don’t look to have the same rulebook,” said Wenger. “They should spare that visit because they never respect what they say. We want them to respect the game and make the right decision and the ego should not interfere in that.
“They have a shortage of referees. I think the system of promoting young referees doesn't work. We should have a bigger league of referees and the guys who have a bad patch, get them to go down to the second division and promote young refs.”
Asked how he wanted referees to approach a game, Wenger said: “Quick, clear decisions. Sometimes I say to the fourth official when, after five minutes the goalkeeper starts to waste time, ‘Look up there, there are people who pay a lot of money to watch football.’ They have to serve the game like we have to serve the game. They have not to be the star.”
Wenger is also irritated by referees spending time talking to players. “People want crisp, sharp action - this is the 1950s, where the referee talks to him: ‘If you’re not nice, I might punish you.’ Come on, let’s not waste time. We don’t live in the dark ages.”
Arsenal’s referee on Wednesday night against Chelsea, when they will be without defenders Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac and potentially Laurent Koscielny through injury, will again be Taylor. “I never look at the referee - I just think they guy will try to do a good job,” said Wenger.