Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that Germany’s political demonstrations played a part on their shocking group stage exit in the World Cup.

Wenger who is FIFA’s Chief of Football Development admitted that the countries who focused on football and stayed away from off field matters have done well in the tournament so far.

This was Germany’s second successive group stage exit in the World Cup reminiscent of their poor display from Russia four years back.

Before their first game against Japan, the German players covered their mouths during the team photo as a mark of protest over FIFA’s ban on the One Love armband.

Germany were one of the several European sides who had planned to wear the rainbow armband in a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar where same-sex relationships are outlawed and homosexuality is punishable by death.

Wenger backs England

Wenger who was speaking in Doha alongside former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said, “You know when you go to a World Cup, you know you can’t lose the first game.

The teams who have the experience to perform in tournaments like France and England played well in the first game. The teams who were mentally ready, with a mindset to focus on competition, and not the political demonstrations.”

England Need To Focus

Wenger also claimed that England were affected by the off-field issues leading to their disappointing 0-0 draw against the USMNT but has backed Gareth Southgate’s side to make a deep run in the tournament.

The 73-year-old Frenchman said, “England were absolutely outstanding in the first game, they struggled in the second game against the States and then they have back when needed to give a convincing performance against Wales.”

He continued, “England has learned a lot. They have been in the last four of the World Cup, the last two of the Euros. Compared to Belgium, which is past the peak, England looks to be a team that is now at the peak to deliver.

Wenger added that Southgate has learned from his experience and is capable to deliver to deliver in the biggest of stages. “He is like the team. He has learned from the World Cup and the European Championship, and he is now in a good situation to deliver. If all goes as planned, the two favorites of England and France might meet.”

Photo credit: IMAGO / Nordphoto

Guide to World Cup 2022

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TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final