Playmaking the Wenger way: Integrity questions swirl around FIFA and its development chief

November 8 – FIFA’s chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, has come under renewed questions regarding his personal integrity over his involvement with sports technology startup PlayerMaker.

PlayMaker is a performance tracking device worn over a player’s boot. The device is currently not authorised to be used during official games but is being trialled by a number of clubs.

It is one of a number of technologies being trialled by FIFA via its FIFA Innovation Programme and is one which could be introduced into matches if successfully passed by the rule-making body IFAB.

Twitter feed FIFA Papers (@FifaPapers) has highlighted that Wenger, now appointed as one of FIFA’s representatives to IFAB, has a vote on the seven-person board that would decide whether the PlayMaker technology was suitable for use in matches.

As conflicts of interest go, they don’t get much clearer that this. Wenger would effectively be voting to authenticate a product in which he has a material interest.

In May 2019, Wenger was announced by PlayMaker as joining the company as an “investor and operating partner”, and that he “will be taking an active role in business and product development”.

Wenger has cut a controversial figure in recent months as he has stood squarely alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino in trying to drive through plans for a biennial World Cup.

Wenger gathered former players at a ‘summit’ in Doha, Qatar, to promote the idea and has appeared on various media forums to justify the plan and world changing proposals to the international calendar.

The former Arsenal manager who made his fortune in the club game, has turned himself into something of a class enemy in that respect with criticism for Europe in particular that the plan is dangerous for football – nationally and internationally – and that there has been no consultation with the sport’s stakeholders.

Wenger, and FIFA, now have questions to answer regarding his involvement with PlayMaker and whether he has abused his position within FIFA to further PlayMaker’s agenda, and in the process ultimately provide a route to enriching himself further.

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