One of the biggest questions once Arsene Wenger left Arsenal was “where will Arsene end up?” He didn’t necessarily want to stop working, but...well, you know that story. Anyway, in the year-and-change since his last game in charge at Arsenal, he’s been linked with
- Real Madrid
- the Qatari national team
- the Japanese national team
- Bayern Munich
All of these were reported to be some combination of coach and executive, in some capacity or other. Now, whether every single one of these offers were real, or whether some were wishcasting by nostalgic Wenger supporters, is up for debate, but it is true that Wenger did want to return to the game in some capacity at some point.
Good news! That happened today. Wenger has accepted a job with FIFA, as their “chief of global football development”. That seems a very vague job title, but it encompasses a lot:
Wenger, 70, will be at the head of all Fifa’s football development activities throughout the world for the men’s and women’s game, including its coaching, training and coach education programmes. His department will be involved in football elements of Fifa’s development projects through its Forward programme, under which $6m is being made available to every football association in the world.
Wenger will also be FIFA’s representative with IFAB, the group that governs (and modifies) the laws of the game.
With this appointment, Wenger fully enters the belly of the beast. FIFA is an...interesting choice for Wenger to make, what with its history of bribes and kickbacks and all that. I’m not for a moment suggesting Arsene will immediately become Chuck Blazer or anything like that, but I do wonder how effective a position like Wenger’s can be, and how effective Wenger himself can be, spreading FIFA’s message and mission around the world, when the typical history and methodology of that spreading is so...we’ll go with unsavory.
Can Wenger singlehandedly clean up FIFA? Of course he can’t, and it’s unrealistic to think he might. But hopefully he can overcome FIFA and do some good for the game, to some degree, even if it’s a bunch of small changes.