Arsene Wenger has stressed that football can play a “positive role” in the country’s relations with Russia, ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League second-leg with CSKA Moscow tonight.
Wenger’s Arsenal are the first British team to play in Russia since tensions heightened between the UK and Russia over the past month, with Prime Minister Theresa May deciding to call a ‘war cabinet meeting’ this afternoon.
However, the Gunners boss isn’t expecting any trouble at the VEB Arena, especially as there didn’t appear to be a problem during the first-leg, which Arsenal won 4-1.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s quarter-final showdown, Wenger told the BBC, “Sport can always play a positive role in life and between countries as well. That is why football is a good opportunity always to facilitate relations.
“I am convinced that tomorrow night will be absolutely normal and the World Cup will be perfectly well organised. I have no problem about that. But maybe sport will have a more active role during this period than ever.”
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 12, 2018
Despite Wenger moving to reassure fans, the Daily Mirror has reported that less than 300 Arsenal fans have travelled from London to Moscow for the game, even though the club were offered in excess of 3,000 tickets.
Can football play a significant role in bringing people together where politicians and political parties clearly struggle?