Man Utd slam fans who abuse Arsene Wenger
The Arsenal manager has been subjected to personal taunts for 13 years - but now it’s time to stop, says Manchester United chief executive David Gill
After 13 years, one of football's dirty secrets, rarely observed or heard by those not actually attending matches, may finally be addressed. Since arriving at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger has been subjected to sustained personal abuse accusing him of being a paedophile from fans of rival clubs, particularly those of arch-rivals Manchester United.
But in the wake of the chants aimed in his direction last Saturday when Man Utd beat the Gunners 2-1 at Old Trafford – usually 'sit down you paedophile' - there is a groundswell of opinion to take action.
Manchester United have officially denounced the supporters who target the Frenchman with ritual abuse, and the club's chief executive David Gill will take up the matter of fans' behaviour at a regular supporters forum next month.
A United spokesman added: "We've gone on the record several times about this disgusting chant. We don't condone it and have appealed to fans in the past - through supporters' groups, the matchday programme and MUTV, but to no avail. There are many chants that opposing fans find objectionable, and this is certainly one to which all decent supporters should object."
The fans' excuse is often that they are only following the lead of the players on the pitch - and in the past Arsenal and United clashes have provided some pretty tasty encounters on the pitch. In 2004 Sir Alex Ferguson was hit in the face by a flying slice of pizza in a post-match fracas and the following year the two captains, Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane, got involved in fisticuffs in the tunnel before the game even started.
However, since the emergence of other title challengers like Chelsea and Liverpool the tensions between the two sides have cooled and now it appears to be the fans who perpetuate the rivalry.
Sir Alex Ferguson did not mention the chants after the match, but after similar scenes last year said the police should do more. "There's enough to think about and admire in the game without resorting to denigrating people," he said,
Ferguson and Wenger have been bitter enemies in the past but behind the competitive facade, and after 13 years of competition, each is known to harbour admiration for the other. ·
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