Arsene Wenger: Why some Arsenal fans are comparing him to Robert Mugabe

Arsene Wenger and Robert MugabeImage copyrightGetty Images

When is a football manager like a controversial ousted ruler?

Arsenal twitterdom has found an innovative way to call for an end to Arsene Wenger’s 21-year tenure as manager: by comparing him to former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Comparisons between the two men have been the basis for jokes all season long, but the meme really took off after Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton over the weekend. And the heat on Wenger has only continued in advance of Thursday’s Europa League match against AC Milan.

Arsene Wenger: Why some Arsenal fans are comparing him to Robert Mugabe
Arsene Wenger: Why some Arsenal fans are comparing him to Robert Mugabe

Thousands chimed in.

Skip Twitter post by @AFCAMDEN

I’ve always wondered what it would take for Wenger to be sacked. The guy has outlasted Mugabe. Truly invincible.

— AFCAMDEN (@AFCAMDEN) March 4, 2018

End of Twitter post by @AFCAMDEN

Skip Twitter post by @lthomasnews

Arsenal lost to Brighton away?

The boys at ArsenalFanTV were calling Wenger ‘Arsene Mugabe’, which is hilarious.

But seriously, how does he keep his job? Zidane is a legend at Madrid and brought them 2 Champs League trophies. Had they lost to PSG, even he would’ve been fired.

— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) March 4, 2018

End of Twitter post by @lthomasnews

After 37 years in power, Mugabe yielded to pressure to resign as president of Zimbabwe in November last year. Some fans carried the comparisons with notorious rulers even further:

Skip Twitter post by @KuperSimon

Mugabe went in January. Castros’ rule of Cuba set to end April 19. Wenger next?

— Simon Kuper (@KuperSimon) March 4, 2018

End of Twitter post by @KuperSimon

Skip Twitter post by @ClaudeJrK

Levels of dictatorship:

1. Wenger

2. Mugabe/Hitler/Stalin/Gaddafi

— Claude K (@ClaudeJrK) February 28, 2018

End of Twitter post by @ClaudeJrK

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The manager’s controversial reign has been the subject of social media debates for years – including constant duelling under the hashtags #WengerIn/#WengerOut. Arsenal has recently lost four games in succession; it’s the second time that has happened under Wenger.

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Wenger/Mugabe origins

The comparison between Arsenal’s manager and Zimbabwe’s ex-president seems to have originated as far back as 2016, in a sweary YouTube video posted by ArsenalFanTV – a channel unaffiliated with the club but run by Gunners supporters.

In the video, an unnamed Arsenal fan goes on a rant to the amusement of a small crowd of supporters.

But the comparison seems to have reverberated far beyond north London – for instance, last year an attendee at an anti-Mugabe rally were spotted with a “Wenger Out” placard.

Skip Twitter post by @stanleykwenda

Saw this #WengerOut placard two weeks ago at #Zimbabwe#Mugabeout protests

— stanley kwenda (@stanleykwenda) December 6, 2017

End of Twitter post by @stanleykwenda

The #WengerOut meme also made it to a concert in Kenya.

Skip Twitter post by @DjRigz

#wengerout made it to the #DiploInKenya Concert


— DEEJAYRIGZ (@DjRigz) April 16, 2017

End of Twitter post by @DjRigz

With nearly 22 years under his belt as Arsenal manager, Wenger is often referred to as the most successful manager in the club’s history. But, like Mugabe, is his time up?

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