Wenger surprised at extent of corruption but believes England is clean.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has insisted that English football is “100 per cent” clean of match-fixing, despite a widespread investigation by Europol into the practice.
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Europol began an inquiry into match-fixing 18 months ago and claim that 680 games across the world have been fixed, including one Champions League game in England – believed to be Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Hungarian outfit Debrecen in 2009.
Some 425 officials, players and criminals are suspected of being involved in the scandal and the issue is expected to dominate the headlines in the coming months.
Wenger says the widespread corruption has taken him by surprise but believes the authorities must be tougher on cheats.
“It was absolutely a surprise by the number of games that have been fixed,” the Frenchman told Arsenal.com.
“I can’t accept it and I always was a believer that there’s a lot of cheating going on in our game and that we are not strong enough with what happens, nor with the doping, nor with the corruption of the referees, nor with the match fixing.
“It’s time that we tackle this problem in a very serious way and that people who cheat are punished in a very severe way as well. Sport is full of legends who are in fact cheats. We had a recent example again and we all have that responsibility to fight against that.”
Wenger, however, is convinced that English football remains clean of match-fixing.
“In sport in general, I don’t think at all it’s a problem in the English game,” he said. “That’s why it’s maybe a shock for us because we are convinced we live in a world in England where it’s not a perfect world but I don’t think cheating or match-fixing is a problem.
“In fairness I give you [reporters] some credit for that because the English media would be very harsh against that.
“I personally feel English football is clean of cheating 100 per cent,” Wenger went on. “I don’t think referees are corrupt.
“It happened in Europe before, that is my belief, where referees were not always fair, especially in some countries. But you always have to be cautious, have your own beliefs, prove it, and that becomes more difficult.”