Football: Gary Lineker condemns 'disgusting' abuse of Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger controls a ball during a training session ahead of their Champions League soccer match against Galatasaray, at their training facility in London Colney, north of London on Monday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger controls a ball during a training session ahead of their Champions League soccer match against Galatasaray, at their training facility in London Colney, north of London on Monday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Former England striker Gary Lineker has criticised Arsenal supporters for verbally abusing the club's manager Arsene Wenger, describing it as "disgustingly disrespectful and totally inexcusable".

A video has emerged apparently showing a group of people shouting foul-mouthed abuse at Wenger as he boarded a train after his side's 3-2 loss at Stoke City on Saturday.

The result left the north London club 13 points below leaders Chelsea in the Premier League table, but Lineker said there was no excuse for the fans lashing out at Wenger, who has been Arsenal manager since 1996.

"Just saw the Wenger abuse video," the BBC television presenter wrote on Twitter. "Disgustingly disrespectful and totally inexcusable, regardless of any bloody football results." The tweet quickly garnered over 5,000 retweets from Lineker's followers.

Wenger, 65, won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during his first nine years at Arsenal, but last season's success in the FA Cup was the club's first piece of silverware since 2005.

The Frenchman has faced protests from supporters this season, with some fans unveiling a banner calling for him to leave after Arsenal's recent 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.

But the supporters who berated Wenger are not representative of the club's fan-base and should unite behind the team, according to a leading Gunners supporter group.

"It's a really sad situation to see those fans abusing him at the train station considering all that Arsene has done, not just for our football club, but English football in general," Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association chair Lois Langton said.

"There are large-scale disputes between Arsenal fans - it's almost become a political situation between the pro-Wenger and the anti-Wenger now.

"But it's one thing having an argument in the pub amongst yourselves and another thing to broadcast it and let the wider public see the split in the Arsenal camp.

"All Arsenal supporters, we all want the same thing: For our team to be successful and to move forward.

"We all need to pull together, work together and not fight each other."