Soccer: Wenger believes English game is clean, but danger lurks

Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:19am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Match-fixing cannot be eradicated but English soccer in 99.9 percent clean, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday shortly before two men were remanded in custody after being charged with conspiracy to defraud.

The arrest on Thursday of two men alleged to be part of an illegal betting syndicate based in Singapore after an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) has raised doubts about the integrity of the game.

No Premier League matches are thought to have been targeted with the focus, according to media reports, on the lower reaches of English football but Wenger admits he is concerned.

"I don't believe that in England people fix matches, but we live in an international world and you cannot just stop it at the border anymore," Wenger said at his Friday news conference.

"It's a new problem that we all face.

"I still think that 99.9 percent, the English game is completely clean. I hope that (the recent charges) are an isolated incident."

"When you see the happiness of the players when they score goals, even in the lower divisions, the passion of the fans when I was at Barnet for example, I can't believe there is a match-fixing problem in England.

"Can it be eradicated completely? I'm not sure. Is it a concern for me and you who love the game? Certainly yes."

Wenger said match-fixing needed to be fought around the world to save the sport from a bleak future.   Continued...

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger attends a team training session at their training ground in London Colney, north of London, November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh