Arsene Wenger has no sympathy for Manchester City after the club were banned from European competition for two seasons having been found to have breached financial fair play rules.
The former Arsenal boss, who is credited with coining the phrase “financial doping”, insists City’s punishment – which also includes a £25million fine – is necessary to uphold the spirit of the game.
Speaking at the Laureus Sports Awards in Berlin, Wenger said:
“The rules are what they are and you have to respect them.
“People who are caught trying to get around the rules in more or less legal ways have to be punished, if it is proven that this has been done on purpose.
“I think sport is basically to win by respecting the rules – we celebrate the best in every sport and we want to know that they respect the rules.
“If there is no respect for the rules it is not real sport. If you go into a competition it is a sign that you respect the rules.”
Man City stated on Friday evening that they were “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision from the adjudicatory chamber of the Club Financial Control Body.
They described the process as “flawed and consistently leaked” and said they would commence appeal proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity.
The future of City’s manager Pep Guardiola has been the subject of speculation since the news of the ban broke, and he may not appear before the media on Tuesday to preview the match against West Ham.
The match, originally due to have been played on 9 February, was postponed because of Storm Ciara and because the rearranged date comes within the same match round, there is no need for a second preview press conference to take place.
Man City are yet to confirm whether they will hold a press conference for the match.
It has been reported that Guardiola has told friends he intends to stay at Man City despite the announcement of the two-year ban.
Wenger’s long reign at Arsenal coincided with Man City’s emergence as a global superpower and led to a procession of stars including Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri swapping the Emirates Stadium for the Etihad.
But Wenger would not be drawn on the suggestion that City should be punished further by being stripped of the silverware they earned during the period in question.
“I don’t know the rule well enough to know what kind of punishment has to be made. But this is the sanction that is planned if the clubs don’t respect the rule.”
Man City have already vowed to launch an appeal to the court of arbitration for sport, alleging that the process was “prejudicial”.