(WFI) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger tells INSIDER he is impressed with the Annecy 2018 Winter Olympics bid pitch at SportAccord.
Making his first public appearance in support of the French bid at the London conference, he said the French presentation to delegates was “very good, dynamic, very modern and very engaging”.
“I like the idea it is supported by all the great sportspeople we have in our country,” he added.
Wenger was the star turn for Annecy, despite playing no part in their presentation team.
While he was not officially announced as a bid ambassador, Wenger was clearly well-briefed on key elements of the project when he was pounced on by media for his thoughts about it.
The manager of the north London Premier League club is familiar with the Alpine town having taken his Monaco players there “for many years” when he was boss of the French club.
“Annecy is a very beautiful city, they have good facilities and very good hospitality. And the French cuisine was not bad as well,” he quipped.
Wenger, who had an ambassador role for the failed England 2018 World Cup bid, was asked by reporters if he thought the 2018 bid campaign would be more transparent than the FIFA bidding race, which was tainted by a cash-for-votes scandal that led to suspensions for two members of the FIFA Executive Committee.
“I think on the Olympic side they [the IOC] have worked a lot on the way things are done and that’s maybe a good example to take for football,” Wenger said.
“I am confident the [Annecy] bid is good. I don’t know exactly what the other candidates will do,” he said. The other candidates are Munich and South Korea’s Pyeongchang.
Asked if he would be meeting IOC members to lobby for Annecy 2018, he added: ” I don’t know, I am available.”
Wenger’s optimism failed to hide what was a largely underwhelming Annecy presentation to SportAccord delegates.
While there was plenty of talk of the Alps being a mecca for winter sports fans, there was no compelling reason communicated about why Annecy deserved to host the Winter Games.
Speeches by bid chairman Charles Beigbeder and French IOC member Guy Drut were supported by messages given by sports minister Chantal Jouanno and Dennis Masseglia, president of the French Olympic committee, the only member of the team to speak to delegates in French.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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