David Conn on 13 November 2019
Arsène Wenger has taken up a new role with Fifa as its chief of global football development, the game’s world governing body has announced.
Wenger, 70, will work full-time as 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.
The role for the former Arsenal manager will also include chairing Fifa’s technical study group, which conducts technical analyses of the World Cup, and he will be a member of the panels of the International Football Association Board, which governs the laws of the game and any rule changes, such as the recent introduction of video-assisted refereeing.
The appointment is the first formal role Wenger has taken since his emotional departure from Arsenal at the end of the 2017-18 season after 22 years as the club’s manager. He was recently linked with the vacant manager’s job at Bayern Munich, after Niko Kovac left the club on 3 November following a 5-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt, but said on Monday that after initial talks with Bayern’s chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, he was “not in the running for the job”.
Two days later, Fifa has unveiled Wenger as their choice to head the next phase of its football development. The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has made it a core ambition of his tenure to try to introduce more football expertise and experience into the organisation’s management, as part of the response to the 2015 corruption scandals and the perception that Fifa had become too concerned with making money.
Fifa’s announcement quoted Wenger saying: “I believe that the new Fifa we have seen emerging in recent years has the sport itself at the very heart of its objectives and is determined to develop the game in its many different components. I know I can contribute to this objective and will put all my energy into this.”