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July 2021

Arsène unedited on the subject of refs, plus trafficking of child footballers

 Arsène unedited on the subject of refs, plus trafficking of child footballers

By: Anne

I’m hoping that, with all the work I’ve put in over the last couple of weeks (ie, writing fairly complicated articles on the topics of FIFA, money laundering, Barcelona, and FIFA again), Untold readers will forgive me for just submitting a simple Untold Media update this time around.

Really, the media has been much better behaved than usual lately, which has given me time to focus on some other topics. But I thought I’d do the following brief Untold Media update on three stories that I thought were worth covering.

Story 1:  Thank you bjtgooner

Ok, this isn’t really a media story. This is just my effort to thank regular UM contributor bjtgooner, who has been so excellent in terms of submitting media reports to me on a regular basis, and whose reports I have nonetheless not used in an article for months. I want to make sure he gets credit for his substantial contribution. Thanks 🙂

Story 2:  Arsène unedited on the subject of refs

I’ve noticed an upsurge in the comments sections recently on the topic of “why it is that Arsène and co. are ‘so willing’ to submit to the abuse that comes their way?” But are they? I thought that the following comments from Arsène’s pre-QPR press conference, unedited, would be quite revealing on this subject, and I would love to hear full-on debate in the comments afterwards.

The following is transcribed from Arsenal player. (and unlike some other people whose names I won’t mention), I’ve noted any place where I’ve made edits:

[starting about 3 minutes in, all emphasis from Arsène]

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“Q: And a touchline ban, probably, for you [Arsène], another improper conduct charge?

Arsène: I play 200 games in Europe, and suddenly people discover I can be suspended.  I don’t know if I am, and if I am, it’s not justified. And I will straight away appeal.

Q: Why?

Arsène: Because they transf… because I believe that uhhh, they’ve transformed now, UEFA competition… the referees in unspeakable, untouchable, icons, and you cannot even have a word. The only thing they understand after the game is report.

And I believe that when you have 25 years, basically, consecutively, in Europe you can still ask the referee…that you can have some discussion with him… and it’s very difficult  to understand. And last year I’ve been suspended. A second time. First time was not  justified.

The second time was a joke. Because they told me what to do, and after, they said ‘no, sorry, we were wrong,’  And so, I have a bit at the moment, difficulties with UEFA, but… And I can take what is wrong on my side, but in these difficult, different situations…I think their go a bit overboard if they suspend me.

Q: Picture of you there with Patrick Vieira Arsène, can I give you his quote? ‘When Manchester United Play at home, they may get an advantage that some other teams might not get.’ Do you agree with that?

Arsène: He spoke with his heart, and I don’t know what… It was after the decision on Monday night where Fulham didn’t get the penalty, and in fairness, it was penalty. It just shows one more thing, that the referees need help. Video assistance, and then they will gain credibility. And there will be no suspicion.

If the referee was a difficult decision to make, if he had ANY assistance from video, he would have given penalty or no penalty, but it would have been a decision that will be no suspicion, you know?

The other thing I would say, on the evidence of the numbers, at least you can say Arsenal doesn’t get ANY advantage from ANYBODY, because we have zero penalties, you know?

So, that’s what comes clearly out, is on our side, we do not get only no penalties, but we get penalties against us that are not penalties, this season. So that at least keeps us out of that fight.

Q: But that argument would be disproved by that almost, because Arsenal are a big team, not getting, you say, penalties…

Arsène: No, I look at the numbers, we have..uh…. today, Man United have got seven penalties at home, Man City got seven penalties at home, Arsenal zero. So you can say, at least, we come out of that with no advantage from anybody, so we are very happy

[sardonic smile]

Q: Are there mind games in Japan and France as much as there are in England?

Arsène: It’s always, yes of course, everywhere. I don’t think it has a big influence on the players, you know, the players are focused on achieving what they want to achieve, and I must say, it just puts the referees under more pressure to perform well, but I believethat in this…

For example, in this situation, on Monday night, you don’t suspect the referee not to be honest, he’s certainly honest, but he has to decide, make a decision, in a fraction of a second, where you can understand it’s a very difficult decision.

And that’s why I am for YEARS now for video assistance, because you do not want to come out and say ‘oh, the referee didn’t give a penalty, he’s not honest, he is honest, but he has to make a decision, a fraction of a second, but we do not understand, there’s no time to check is it right or wrong?’ And…uh… it’s difficult [another little smile]

***Edit. Arsene talks of Jack Wilshere for a bit.****

Q: You talk about touchline bans Arsène. Are they meaningful, do they mean anything to you? Do they hurt you?

Arsène: No, they do not hurt me. Injustice hurts me, you know? But apart from that, if you can prepare your team, it doesn’t change a lot.

***Edit. Another 5 minutes on the press conference, but I’ve stopped transcribing at this

point. Go check out Arsenal Player***

Story 3: FIFA human trafficking report airs on Sky Sports News

Personally, ever since I became aware of the preliminary publicity for this particular Sky investigative report, I’ve been following the story quite closely:

“Football’s slave trade

We film FIFA-listed agent in Cameroon, who’s prepared to sell boys”

Unfortunately, ever since the initial report apparently aired on Sky, the only follow up that I’ve been able to find at all is the following from Sky:

“FIFA head of security Chris Eaton has confirmed that an investigation has been launched into football trafficking.

Sky Sports’ Special Report on Monday looked into the trafficking of young footballers and FIFA-listed agent Robert N’Kuimy was filmed agreeing to sell 14-year-old boys.

Evidence has now been passed on to FIFA and Eaton insists the matter will be thoroughly looked into.

“We have been investigating these matters,” he told Sky Sports.  “We have been very concerned about the issue of player trafficking around the world, from South America, from Africa, into some European leagues.

“The issue about them being abandoned in some countries is also well known.  This general matter of player trafficking is one of serious interest to FIFA.”

This is a very important issue, and I look forward to FIFA fully investigating it in the near future. I will be closely following the situation for future updates, and I will update our readers accordingly.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you something more in-depth next time around.


Match officials: Attacks upon linesmen and the professionalisation of refs

Corruption: A beacon of light in the world of match fixing and money laundering

Youth: Under 19 version of the Champions League?

Match fixing: Media rush to deny match fixing takes place

Ref Reviews: Tottenham 1 Man U 3 and Chelsea 3 Man U 3 


George Armstrong: everyone’s favourite who played under four Arsenal managers







63 comments to Arsène unedited on the subject of refs, plus trafficking of child footballers

  • legolas still trust Wenger

    In Arsene we trust … he is so right they always deny us penalties this is sooooo unfair . Come on Gooooners we can do it against man city

  • Telipot

    video assistance prevent bias – no bias means no matchfixing – no matchfixing means no bribes – no bribes means no corruptions… Arsene is attacking the root of the problems. It’s hard, but doable. And I condemn any form of corruption.

  • Neven

    I suspect Arsène reads the ref reviews on this site. 😉

    Michael Oliver & Coward Webb are like a pair of golems (‘Sentinels of Old Trafford’) whose control rods are being wielded by Lord Fungus.

  • Rich_Fryer

    If only we were an attacking team with a lot of possession, then we would spend more time in the penalty area, with our opponents forced to defend, and then we would get penalties. 🙁

  • Stevie E

    Thanks for this article. As you no doubt know, I was one of the voices asking why Arsenal don’t make more noise about refs etc. Well, it’s pretty obvious really isn’t it? They do but the press only release what they want people to hear. It’s the same with the human trafficking story, it’s not good for the image of the game, it may make people switch off and lots of people lose their cash cow. Same thing with the Bryan Robson story last year. C4 did a big investigation and the press shrugged their shoulders, not interested. Although it’s not just the sports journos, every area of the British press is a shambles. At the moment, they’ve got a bee in their bonnet about snow. They love to hate snow in this country. Every winter, the snow comes and the press go into overdrive, every night telling us the country is in turmoil, businesses will lose millions, jobs will be lost and heads will roll… At the moment we’re having a funny bit of weather over here, the last few weeks have been glorious sunshine (bringing on reports of a drought ffs). Then, last week they predicted snow. It’s the end of the world right? Well, they were right. It did snow. In the highlands of Scotland! Where nobody lives… They even sent a man to go and stand on a mountain in Scotland to prove it was snowing. And, because of this, every weather report starts with a 5 minute intro telling us how the snow is sweeping the country (over the highlands) and there’s a weather warning etc etc etc. It’s crap! I had no idea it was going to rain yesterday afternoon so got soaked walking home. Anyway, rant over. Probably not the right forum but I had to get it off my chest and it seemed relevant to the media angle 😉

  • Mahdain

    @Rich fryer are you f’n kidding me? Seriously?do you turn blind eye whenever blatant pens are not given to us? The only reason we dont get penalties is not because we dont pressure other teams but rather because we are not allowed to get penalties..we should have had double figure penalties but alas we only have had 2 away and only wba or wolves(not sure which) have had less than us

  • Stevie E

    I think Rich was taking the piss mate… Or being ironic 😉

  • nicky

    The biggest laugh* I’ve had in many a day was after reading
    “Evidence (of child player trafficking) has now been passed on to FIFA and Eaton (the Head of Security) insists that the matter will be thoroughly looked into”.
    The vast majority of us have long given up on FIFA as a body well deserving of “being looked into” from a rather great height.
    Pot, kettle and black come readily to mind. 🙄
    *the bitter type

  • Brookesssy

    The point I would make on the penalty comment would be that Arsenal are not direct enough in the area. It is rare that there is a scything challenge that would warrant a penalty. If a statistic of percentage of marginal penalties given was supplied I think the opinion might be a bit different. It is so easy to be the victims, Liverpool have made this their number one talent. Referees like Phil Dowd are awful but unless there is going to be a genuine effort by the club to do something about it then we should stop bitching and get on with it.

  • If the Commentator can state on TV that its the first time two English players have scored at the Arsenal then be very very afraid.
    Yesterday i was watching Milan/Bacerlona and most fans where surpoting Manure when Milan equalized they jumped for joy by i told them that their happiness was to be short lived as always seen at oldtraford because Barcelona was to get a penalty;it happened as i told them.
    One of them told me that it really hurts.
    One mans poison is another mans meat.

  • Mahdain

    @stevie if he was being ironic then im sorry for misunderstanding his intentions but anyone who says we only deserve the 2 penalties we got need to go and rewatch the matches

  • Shard

    Does no one else find it strange that evidence of what is essentially child trafficking be sent to FIFA? I mean what is their jurisdiction here? At most they can cancel the license of the agent. Or at least, that’s how it should be. What about the illegality of it? The Human Rights Commissions? The border controls? I guess all other forms of legal control are to be kept out of football. Football is to remain a law unto itself.

  • WalterBroeckx

    sarcastic FUFA mode: “who cares about child trafficking, as long as we got our dosh. We will most certainly examine what is in it for our own profit” close sarcastic FUFA mode.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I loved the ironic mode from Rich a lot to be honest. 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    Another great article Anne and the media watchers.

    Another article opening eyes on the sad state football, their governing bodies and the media are in at the moment…

  • Asif

    When Martin Jol commented that the refree was not courageous enough… and the likes published articles to show that how ManUre has been at the receiving end of the decisions…and defend the ‘ultimate saviour of British Football…SAF! I guess the media always keeps a hand on the pulse of the people and published what would be read rather than what is true…leave alone standing for the truth! Doesn’t it seem like Arsene is waging a lone battle…had it been one of their darlings Arry or Chewing Gum SAF – they would have revolted when banned by FIFA on such frivolous charges! I don’t even expect them to be fair…and this was the most evident at the start of the season when every football pundit had discarded Arsene to football obilivion and none of these morons have the courage to come back now and say that they were wrong. Look at what they are doing to ManShitty – the media has already torn them apart…make it look uglier than it is and I bet all of them already have half finished write-ups to celebrate ManUre’s victory…

  • Good article Anne. My suspicion is that whenever Wenger criticises officials, pitches etc (rightly or wrongly) he gets lambasted as a whiner. If he complained about the ref treatment this season he’d complaining so often people would stop listening.

    Basically, I think his hands are tied, and there is nothing people within the club can do really.

  • marcus

    There is Law regarding the FA I know of, and its the Law of the penitentiary.

    Complain and you get harsher treatment.

  • dan

    I know this may be of little relevance but what about the media crap about Wenger romancing some lady in france?

  • Paul

    talking about the refs, have a look at this article: . Notice Busquets grabbing Prince-Boateng by the throat, does it seem familiar?

  • bjtgooner

    Anne, thank you for the mention, but really you are the one who deserves the thanks – for putting up with my ghastly typing!

    Re Wenger’s comments: he is at times very cautious in what he says, but where he can he makes his point using facts – as you rightly point out in the penalties issue. Where possible the FA will try to fine him, but they can’t do that if he simply quotes facts.

    Re child trafficking: this surely is a matter for the relevant national police forces. If FIFA are aware that this trafficking is happening they should be presenting all their information to one or more of the police forces. I am surprised that Eaton did’t commit to that route. If they want to run a parallel investigation – fine – but are they qualified or motivated to do so? I doubt it. Eaton’s comment looks like a cover up/gloss over.

    Finally: Anne as usual a thoughtful and well written article.

  • rusty

    I’m still waiting to hear that Pep was suspended for complaining about the same San Siro pitch that Wenger was attacked for noting.

  • Anne


    I must admit that I as well wondered where Arsene was getting these statistics that he referred to 🙂

  • Anne


    Lol. Yes, if only Arsenal didn’t sit back and defend all the time… I think replacing Wenger with Mourinho would be a solution to that problem 🙂

  • Anne

    @Stevie E:

    Yes, I noticed your comment on this subject. I do think there is something to what you said. Arsenal makes more noise about this than people are made aware of, but it’s clear to me that they’re also reluctant to openly say exactly what they know is going on. On the question of motivation for that… well, as I replied to you before (or meant to if I didn’t get around to it 🙂 ), I think we need to look at potential negative consequences in addition to other factors.

    Also, I think that your snow comments actually work out to be a nice analogy.

  • Anne


    If Rich’s comment was meant seriously, I agree with you 100%. I took it to be sarcastic, though.

  • Anne


    In response to that, I would like to quote Shard from a comment he left on his recent article, which I was quite impressed with. Not directly on point, but you can see the analogy:

    “The analogy of the refs and us in our jobs isn’t really valid. In our jobs, corruption is defined by the law of the land. In football, the law is laid down by the football authorities. If they decree that Manchester United’s players will not receive a red card even for a blatant elbow to an opponents head, then that isn’t really corruption as far as the referee is concerned. That is the law he is supposed to follow. Who is going to judge his actions in the end? (Let’s leave God out of it 🙂 ) The same person that employs him and told him to do something ‘corrupt’.

    Referees aren’t any more or less likely to be corrupt than you or me. But with professionalisation, the rewards they get (as well as their dependence on the one source of employment) have become much greater, while the risks are virtually non existent, if present at all. Basically a bigger carrot, and the stick only comes out if for some reason the ref loses his appetite.

    Immoral it may be, and I’m sure some referees leave the game disillusioned, both before and after they get to the top. But we don’t hear about it because it’s in everyone’s interest to keep it quiet. No one with any influence is asking anyway.”

    On that note, I should also have thanked Shard for helping me with the transcription of Arsene’s comments.

  • Anne

    @Kampala Gun:

    Speaking of the CL, Benfica is in the process of being blatantly robbed against Chelsea right now. It will be very interesting to see what happens when Barca and Chelsea meet in the next round.

  • Anne


    That is one of the many aspects of this story that makes it so utterly and completely revolting… Selling children into slavery is a whole other level of corruption, which makes all of our concerns about referees and match fixing seem trite by comparison.

    Unfortunately, this story is heading straight for the information graveyard at the current moment. I plan to do everything in my power, at least, to prevent that from happening. So expect follow up on this (not sure when).

  • Anne


    Glad you enjoyed the article. But yes, the subject matter is quite depressing. From the tone of the comments on here lately, I think we could all really use an Arsenal victory on Sunday.

    Here’s hoping 🙂

  • Anne


    I don’t think that the media responds to the “mood” of the people. I believe that the media dictates the “mood” of the people. Or at least tries to. They haven’t done such a great job where Arsenal fans are concerned.

  • Anne


    Glad you enjoyed the article. I definitely agree that Arsene’s hands are tied by something. What it is exactly is worthy of further examination, I think.

    I think that your point about how the media would portray it and could twist it are part of the reason. I also think that fear of sanctions and the like is another part of the reason. But is there anything else that should be on that list?

  • Anne


    I actually haven’t heard anything about Arsene romancing a lady in France.

    But if it turns out to be true, my only concern would be why exactly it is that he hasn’t called me yet 🙂

  • Adam

    Find Infants F*ck Abolition. “FIFA”.

  • Anne


    I as well noticed that Kevin Prince Boateng incident. Looked strangely familiar…

  • Anne


    Cheers. Glad you liked the article. This child slavery issue is a whole other can of worms, and hopefully I’ll be able to look into it in in more detail in the future.

  • Anne


    I wouldn’t hold my breath on that 🙂

  • Anne


    That’s pretty good… I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad…

  • Anne


    Lol. Thanks for that one.

  • Tasos

    Rafa Benitez attempted to blow the whole Man Utd + referees + fixture list corruption a few years back.
    But poor old Rafa and His list of “facts” were simply ridiculed. Benitez was then said to be loosing out in the “mind games” crap. It did not matter one jot to the British press how many truths his statement held, Benitez was routinely slaughtered by the media for attempting to critise their beloved Man Utd and thus open up the EPL can of worms.

  • Mahdain

    @Tasos agreed…the intelligent ones understood exactly what Rafa meant but not the majority and all thanks to the media ridiculing him and them telling everyone he was talking nonsense…going back to it today im sure some people are starting to see how much sense he made

  • Shard

    Tasos and Mahdain

    Also like to add my voice to that. Benitez was hounded out of the league for saying what he did.

  • Anne

    @Tasos, Mahdain, and Shard:

    Very good points. Thanks, Tasos, for bringing this up.

  • Mahdain

    i think its worth going through what Rafa said again as he had some very interesting things to is the full transcript

  • Mahdain

    i really liked this part as it really says a lot

    “We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and the United staff. They are always going man to man with the referees, especially at half-time when they walk close to the referees and they are talking and talking.

    “All managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees and nothing happens.”

  • Anne

    Here’s a link to Benitez’ comments (thanks Shard):

  • Tasos


    I really enjoy your articles.

    And judging by recent posts, UA are gaining a growing reputation around the globe.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Mahdain

    this one too..o put the caps for emphasize

    “We had a meeting in Manchester with managers and FA about the Respect campaign. And I was very clear, forget the campaign because Mr Ferguson was KILLING THE REFEREES, killing Mr Atkinson, killing Mr Hackett. But HE IS NOT PUNISHED. How can you talk about the respect campaign and criticise the referee every single week? You can analyse the facts and come to your own decision and ideas.”
    clearly not many had the chance to analyse what he said as the media made sure he was seen as a joke and losing to SAF`s “mind games” BS

  • Shard

    ok..looks like I was late with that one 🙂

  • Adam

    In all honesty Anne it seems to me a crime against humanity, The magnitude of these allegations should not be made a joke of. Fifa regulates these salesmen (apparently) why do they need to travel to Africa to find young talent, Whets wrong with educating the kids local to a European club. We should be taking the game to these young kids not removing them from their homelands with the promise of opportunity. It the same old story, from Cecil Rhodes, to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan the hardcore capitalists will take what they want with no remorse or fear of repercussions.

  • Mahdain

    @Anne i see you even bettered me and put a video link..great job
    dont you guys think Rafa`s words deserve a follow up article of some kind? not that we dont know he was right but just to compare what he said that time and whats happening now..problem is who will rise to the challenge? 😛

  • Anne


    I did that before I saw your link. But I agree that Rafa’s words deserve a follow up article. I’ll try to do it. In fact, if I had thought of it, I would have included it in this article. I was wondering what I was going to do for next week.

    Unless you want to take it on, Mahdain 🙂

  • Anne


    It’s most certainly a crime against humanity. And not remotely funny. Although there is a need to distinguish between child trafficking and simply “studying abroad.” To what extent does one occur, and to what extent the other?

    I believe that this is one of the most “covered-up” issues in all of football. Possibly the most. My next focus in my money laundering series will be on 3rd party ownership of players, which will lead us much closer to this particular topic.

  • Anne


    I’m very glad to hear that you enjoy my articles, because I very much enjoy your comments.

  • Mahdain

    @Anne i`ll leave it in your hands as you`re the best and besides work is kinda making my life miserable for me atm lol 😛

  • Anne


    Thanks, that’s a very nice compliment 🙂 And good luck with your work.

  • RedGooner

    Hi Anne, this piece from Arseblog sums it up best for me 🙂

    And while we’re on the subject of governing bodies, UEFA’s decision to fine Porto just €20,000 for racist chanting directed at Mario Balotelli shows us exactly how seriously they take things like that. Compare and contrast to the €40,000 fine and three game touchline ban dished out to Arsene Wenger for disagreeing with a referee – in private, mostly. Not forgetting that this is Wenger’s third touchline ban in the last 12 months

    So Arsen’s worse that a racist right ? Oh my god…..SIGH
    PS if you wanna see a hillarious fake doc on the subject hop on over to Arseblog news.

    PS good article as ever.

  • Anne


    Glad you enjoyed like the article. But did you forget to include your link from arseblog? 🙂

  • Anne

    “enjoyed like the article”… that was kind of a stupid-sounding typo, wasn’t it? 🙂

  • bob

    On the first story:
    I’ve lodged several comments hereabouts very recently on Arsene’s (post-QPR) call for Video Replay (just as happily you document it above), and until a few (too few) there’s been next to no follow-up from readers, let alone the groundswell that should be. To me, that degree of silence could and should well be explored. At some point, when Arsene makes it more explicit, or is fined yet again and it (directly or indirectly) or something happens within or via investigation or sponsor pressure against FIFA/UEFA that overcomes their refusal to allow it, then fans here and elsewhere will see ah, oh happy day, it’s about time, I’ve supported Video Replay in my heart all along, and it’s only fair, and justice is served, etc. But the truth is that there has been mostly silence in the comments (though not from occasional articles and calls here by Tony in the past for sure and others on UA).

    The fact is, here is ARSENE virtually calling for it and it is NOT being picked up on. Why then should he bother when the fanbase is so tone-deaf? I find it as puzzling as it is disturbing. On another level, I don’t find it puzzling at all. Lots of piss and vinegar when it comes to this or that shite call or shite non-call or ManUre this or that. But when it comes to advocacy for a solution, barely a peep – especially now, with Arsene facing a three game suspension and responding with a call for Video Replay. So next time there’s all this stuff about what’s a true gooner, why not a thought or two about caring enough about this side and its values and its manager to spare a few keystrokes on what Arsene Wenger has done to tell the truth and to call for a remedy and to be greeted by silence. Would AW really feel that a significant section of the fanbase has his back? Cares enough to even type something, let alone contemplate more? And then people have the cheek to wonder or complain WHY the club doesn’t do anything? It goes back to a brilliant Steve Bell cartoon (in the good non-football Guardian) showing a bunch of couch potatoes watching the bad news on the telly and hand wringing at the screen: “Why don’t THEY do something?!” Time for a look in the mirror (not that Mirror) for A CHANGE, methinks.

  • bob

    Further on story one:
    I appreciate your hard work in the transcription. To me it’s something that AFC should be providing for those who subscribe to Arsenal Player. Isn’t there enough money charged per season to squeeze in salary for a stenographer?