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Arsene Wenger Confirmed as FIFA Chief of Global Football Development

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2019

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 file photo, former Arsenal soccer team manager Arsene Wenger arrives for the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards. FIFA says it hired Arsene Wenger in a full-time role leading its global work developing soccer. Wenger accepted FIFA’s offer more than two months after it was reported, and one week after talks with Bayern Munich about the German champion’s vacant head coach job. He will oversee the rules-making panel known as IFAB, coaching programs and technical analysis of games at FIFA tournaments.  (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
Claude Paris/Associated Press

Arsene Wenger has found his next job in football after the former Arsenal manager was confirmed as the new FIFA chief of global football development on Wednesday.

Wenger, who left the Gunners in 2018, met with world football governing body president Gianni Infantino in Zurich, Switzerland, with the appointment later announced on FIFA's official website.

The Frenchman's remit will involve the following:

"... overseeing and driving the growth and development of the sport for both men and women around the world. He will also be the leading authority on technical matters, both as a member of the Football and Technical Advisory Panels involved in The IFAB's review and decision-making process on potential changes to the Laws of the Game, and as chairman of the FIFA Technical Study Group, which has conducted the technical analysis of FIFA tournaments since 1966."

FIFA's statement also noted how Wenger will dedicate "a particular focus on coach education." Part of the focus will involve encouraging players to move into the dugout once their on-pitch careers have come to a close.

Heralding the appointment of one of the most illustrious figures of the sport's modern era, Infantino said: "Arsene is someone who, with his strategic vision, competence and hard work, has dedicated his life to football. His arrival is just another example of how we keep strengthening our purpose to bring FIFA back to football and football back to FIFA."

Wenger also expressed his eagerness to get started:

Charles Watts @charles_watts

Arsene Wenger has been named FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development Wenger: "I look forward to this important challenge. The new FIFA we have seen emerging has the sport itself at the heart of its objectives. I know I can contribute and will put all my energy into this." https://t.co/MvVcaKAsfS

As Sky Sports noted, Wenger will be taking on a job similar to the one previously undertaken by Marco van Basten. The ex-Ajax, AC Milan and Netherlands striker served as FIFA technical director until stepping down last October.

Wenger's decision to accept an executive role at the expense of a return to the touchline still rates as a mild surprise, despite FIFA being interested in employing his services for some time. The 70-year-old had only recently distanced himself from links to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

James Olley @JamesOlley

Arsene Wenger has been stalling over accepting the FIFA technical director position for months. He's torn over whether to return to management one last time. Bayern Munich has obvious appeal and would in theory suit him well. Easy to see the logic.

Get French Football News @GFFN

L'Équipe insist that FIFA's offer to Arsène Wenger remains on the table, but that sources at the governing body feel he has delayed giving an answer in case a club makes him an offer. https://t.co/L18YuBciVr

Die Roten eventually opted to let caretaker boss Hansi Flick keep the job until the end of the season in the wake of Saturday's 4-0 win over rivals Borussia Dortmund:

Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul

Bayern Munich have not made contact with Arsene Wenger and will likely keep Hansi Flick as interim head coach until the end of the season, according to TZ.

Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge indicates that Bayern Munich will keep faith in caretaker Hansi Flick, telling Sport1: “We will work with Hansi Flick until further notice. I have respect for Arsene. We will call him and clear things up. I don't want to stress him.” #FCBayern

Wenger told BeIN Sports (h/t Blake Welton of Sky Sports) he "was never a candidate" for the Bayern job. At the time, he also said developments in Munich did "not necessarily mean I am done with management."

He hasn't overseen a team since leaving Arsenal following a difficult end to an otherwise glorious near-22-year tenure. Wenger guided the Gunners to Premier League and FA Cup doubles in 1998 and 2002 before his 2004 squad won the title without losing a single game.

Only four FA Cups followed the triumph of the Invincibles, but Wenger became a record seven-time winner in England's oldest cup competition. His global experience also includes winning Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France with Monaco as well as the Emperor's Cup during a brief stint with Japanese side Grampus Eight.

Wenger's latter years at Arsenal were marred by increasing dissent from supporters concerning results and struggles to mount consistent title challenges. Many fans felt a change had come too late once Unai Emery was appointed as successor, but that a new man was essential in getting the club back to its once-lofty heights.

However, Arsenal's post-Wenger era hasn't gone to script, with Emery failing to even match the standards of his predecessor's most fallow period:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

87 - Arsenal have won 87 points in their 50 Premier League games under Unai Emery (W25 D12 L13) - one fewer than they managed in their final 50 under Arsene Wenger (W27 D7 L16). Regression. https://t.co/jAfA0dzuIj

Wenger had his critics, but he engineered a stylistic revolution in north London, one based on a fidelity to artful passing, fluid movement and the encouragement of flair.

If Wenger stood for the purity of the game, Infantino will hope his arrival helps further FIFA's necessary makeover after the organisation has spent years mired in controversy related to corruption involving World Cup bids under the stewardship of former president Sepp Blatter.

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