Wenger calls Maradona goal vs England 'hand of devil' and blasts Arsenal for sacking Gunnersaurus

Arsene Wenger has launched a blistering attack on Diego Maradona – likening the Hand of God villain to the DEVIL.

Former Arsenal boss Wenger, 71, mounted a strong defence of VAR technology and insisted it would have ruled out the Argentine's infamous goal against England.


Maradona is in hospital recovering from brain surgery and hopes to return home in the next few days.

And the Frenchman claimed Maradona's 'strutting around' after his 1986 World Cup con has encouraged bad behaviour in young people.

Wenger also took a swipe at Arsenal's decision to axe their Gunnersaurus mascot and dozens of staff – while paying Atletico Madrid £45million to sign midfielder Thomas Partey.

He further cast doubts on the club's adaptation to life without him after he ended his 22-year spell in charge in 2018.

Wenger said: "I am a big fan of VAR, and I need to be. I have suffered a lot from iniquitous decisions.

"It is hard enough to lose games as it is, but it is even worse to lose as a result of wrong decisions. Let's try to reduce the number of refereeing mistakes.

"To my mind Maradona's handball is not the Hand of God, but the hand of the devil. Had VAR been around then the goal would not have stood.

"People strut round as a result of unfair decisions, and they don't encourage children to behave correctly.

"Nonetheless, the stats say that before VAR 84 per cent of decisions were correct, whereas now the figure is 95 per cent.

"I am in favour of video refereeing, even though I recognise that when Everton played Liverpool recently the VAR was completely off track.

"But referees now take fewer decisions. I find above all that they don't always intervene when they should.

"Jordan Pickford's challenge on Virgil van Dijk may have been missed by the referee, but it wasn't by VAR. The Everton goalkeeper should have been sent off."

Wenger, now FIFA's chief of global football development, took a quizzical look back at his former club.

He told So Foot magazine: "The decision to sack Jerry Quy [the fan who wore the Gunnersaurus costume] could not be justified financially.

"I don't know who took the decision, no-one could understand it, and everyone who loves Arsenal – including myself – took it badly.

"They sacked 55 members of staff, which might be explained away as a shake-up or an efficiency drive.

"But you can't justify sacking the mascot as wanting to balance the books. It is inconceivable."

Wenger also hinted Arsenal are struggling to adapt following his departure, in the manner of Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down.

The Frenchman added: "Maybe when you are in a place for such a long time it creates a vacuum. You take up a lot of space.

"Then when you leave, people look at one another and ask: 'Who takes this decision? Who does what now?'

"You need to find a new balance in the club's structure.

"At the same time, I find that the people who then come in want to change too much and disown the culture that existed before they arrived.

"A club's culture is much deeper and more persistent than people think, and it does not welcome being suppressed.

"You can't take charge of Real Madrid tomorrow and get them to play with six defenders. The club's tradition is too strong.

"Arsenal need to find their new balance."

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