Wenger turns on Pardew for 'racist' views on French players

In a formidable demolition of Pardew's remarks that it was a "shame" that there was no "British involvement" in the Gunners' team on Wednesday night, Wenger described his views as "regressive". His reminder to Pardew that the West Ham manager came cap in hand to sign Arsenal's French striker Jérémie Aliadière on loan in the summer was a detail that will make him squirm with embarrassment.

Pardew should have remembered that before he went on the attack because it would seem unlikely that West Ham will be receiving any more favours from Arsenal.

"When Alan Pardew calls me at the beginning of the season and asks for Jérémie Aliadière on loan he didn't check if he was English or not - he just checked if he was good or not," Wenger said. "It is just painful."

Rarely has Wenger been more impassioned, or more devastating, in his defence of his policy of club-building at Arsenal than he was yesterday. An apology from West Ham may be in order if they want to sign any more foreign strikers on loan from their London rivals.

Pardew had originally said that he had "seen a headline saying they [Arsenal] are flying the flag for Britain". He added: "Then I wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at the team, which is a shame."

Wenger said: "It's really disappointing. First we kick racism out of football and racism starts there. When you are a manager you want to accept a technical opinion but not that kind of remark. I think it is very, very disappointing to hear that because it is a regressive way of thinking. I would never like to say to a player, 'You are better but you do not play because you don't have the right passport'.

"When you represent your country, you represent your country. You know from the start the England team is English - it has English players and an English manager. When you represent a club it is about values and qualities and it is not about passports unless you change the rules.

"But we have done nothing wrong. Do we not respect every rule that exists at the moment? I don't accept his way of thinking.

"You cannot say on the one hand we want to create [a federal] Europe and on the other hand say, 'We want to go abroad when we want but we want to remain among English people'. It doesn't work like that.

"In France they behave exactly the same. They vote against the constitution but they want Europe. They want to buy the big companies abroad but when the big companies come into France to buy they don't want it. It doesn't work like that."

Wenger criticised Fifa's rule on quotas for homegrown players which will be phased in over the next few years, and said: "I rate Theo Walcott highly and I think he will be a great player but I took him because he is a great player. I try to choose the best player and I think my pride in my career is not to choose somebody because of his passport."

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