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Arteta says ESL protests shows fans soul of the sport belong to the fans

by Koolkola

Mikel Arteta spoke about the ESL for the first time since the whole drama ensued. He said that the protests against the European Super League are proof that “soul of this sport belongs to the fans”.

The manager faced the press ahead of today’s match against Everton, and he had to answer questions on whether the Kroenke ownership had apologised, the possible punishments that the club could face and the process of earning fan trust again.

On when he found out about Arsenal’s involvement in the ESL…

I found out just a little bit before the news was leaked. And then everything was completely out of control and the world reacted in a really unified manner. I did not really have time to think about it, reflect, evaluate or anything because by the time that was out a big tsunami had already come onto it and basically killed it.

On who apologised to him…

Vinai spoke to me and explained a little bit what was happening about the process just before that was announced. He was very clear and transparent with me. I understand the reasons why we could not know [earlier], obviously we were not involved in the decision but we understand the logic of it.

On whether anyone has apologised to him and the players…

Yes, starting from Vinai, the ownership and everybody that is involved in the process. All of them with the right intentions to defend the club and put the club in the best possible position for now and the future but accepting that the way it has been handled, obviously, has had terrible consequences and that it was a mistake. I have to really respect that when people have genuine intentions for this football club but it doesn’t happen or it’s not the right thing to do that they can stand up and apologise. I’m speaking for myself but I think the players and staff and everybody at the club we have to accept that and move on. The way it [the apology] has been handled has been really good internally.

On whether he’s had communication with the Kroenke family…

Yes, I had some communication with them as well. I spoke with them yesterday. The last communication was on the same terms. As always, when we need something or something is happening, they are straightaway ready to act, to give the answers that they can do. To give us the support that they can do. And they’ve done it again.

On if the Kroenke ownership had apologised…

Yes, absolutely. Obviously, they are the maximum responsible to run the football club. This is what they said, they apologised for disturbing the team and for not having the capacity and the ability to communicate in a different way earlier. They explained the reasons why and I passed on the message to the players. That’s all you can ask for. The way they’ve done it, I have to accept it.

On supporters protesting against their own clubs…

I think this has given a big lesson. And it shows the importance of football in the world. And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans. And that’s it. During this pandemic, for a year, we’ve been trying to sustain this industry with no fans in the stadium. But when the fans have to come out and talk they do it really loud and clear. And they send probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world. Every club, leaving their interests apart, have done the right thing…they [the fans] are the ones, we have to listen to them, we put this out there and in 24 hours, they killed the project. That’s a massive statement for the history of football.

On potential sanctions against the ‘Big Six’…

I don’t know the legal details to respond to that question. Obviously, when you act and make the decisions, there are always consequences. I don’t know the extent of those consequences. I think here, as well, we have to understand the principles and the reason why those clubs were trying to achieve something. But if it wasn’t done in the right way, there is always consequences and we’re going to have to accept any that there are.

On why Arsenal thought it was a good idea to join the ESL…

I don’t know. But I know the people who work in the organisation. First, they are very caring for the interests of the football club and second, they are very intelligent and professional people. So I’m sure that they had the right reasons to start something, but it clearly didn’t work or it wasn’t the right time or it wasn’t done in the right way. And it was time to step back. It says a lot about the people who are involved in those decisions to undo something straightaway and to show something important to the important people in this industry which is the fans, who are the reason why we’re all sitting here.

On whether another proposal will succeed in the future…

Football will evolve, for sure. Like any other sport or any other aspect in life, like technology and the way we interact with each other. There are a lot of things that are going to change in the next few years. What I’m just hoping is that everything is constructive, protecting the wellbeing of football, the competition has to be a priority, the passion has to be a priority; the rest will take care of itself. I think if it’s done with the right reasons and unifying interests, I think very important achievements can be done. It will depend. I think now everything is damaged and everyone has to be working, and we have the responsibility sitting here and you guys there, to rebuild that trust and put football back in the right place so that we can move forward. The world is looking at us and we have a lot to say.

On how Stan and Josh Kroenke can rebuild trust with the fans…

I can talk from my experience as a player, a captain and now as a manager. We have always had great communication and full support from the ownership, which goes down to every member of the football club. The most important way to show it is that in the most challenging period for this football club during the pandemic, the way we have done things, the things we’ve reached out [and done] as a club, and the commitment of every single person at this club has shown in difficult moments, not just to be there, but when they had to help the club, they were there and that makes me really proud. The fans have to express their right and they have to do it freely. For me, what it shows is the power and the capacity when they show that determination and passion to achieve what they want. If we can use this with our fans to support the team, I think that will be incredibly powerful and it will make us much, much stronger. It’s time to leave them [the fans] time to express themselves and somehow we have to engage them again, get them closer to us, believe in what we do and if we do that, we’ll be in a much better place.

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