October 24th, 2008
05:29 PM ET

No smoke without fire as Gallas riles Wenger

Arsenal captain William Gallas is under fire today, having been photographed leaving a London nightclub in the early hours with an unlit cigarette in his hand.

Arsene Wenger, known in the game for his strict discipline and attention to health and fitness, has condemned his captain’s behaviour as “unacceptable,” although he’s standing by him. (The Frenchman has upset Arsenal fans before with his sulky attitude on the field and occasional dodgy defending.)

Gallas isn’t the first to draw ire for this dirty habit: Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov have also been caught red-handed with a sneaky cig.

Is Wenger right? Is it unacceptable for footballers to smoke? Or does the odd smoky treat make little difference to players at the top of their game?

Posted by ,
Filed under:  Football
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Dennis orero in Nairobi kenya

    Wenger is right ,the footballers have a lot of influence and the kids seeing that would think smoking is a good thing.its not good to be seen in public with a cigi.

    October 25, 2008 at 11:09 am | Reply
  2. Gringo

    If it's not an illegal substance, it's basically nobody's business whether they choose to smoke or not. Are they going to let people tell them whether they can drink soft drinks, or will these grown men be restricted to milk only? How about coffee or tea? Wenger doesnt like caffeine, so will they have to give it up? How about sunlight? Wenger okay with melanoma?

    Don't be ridiculous. These are not his children we are talking about.

    October 25, 2008 at 11:41 am | Reply
  3. saphe

    for sure it isn't acceptable for footballers to smoke , because they're professionals and they shouldn't do so; however, the one who smokes is affecting his own career.Stirc players and coches do always achieve better ,and thus they are rewarder higher...

    October 25, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  4. chun

    May i quote from your open words "the Frenchman has upset Arsenal fans before with his sulky attitude on the field and occasional dodgy defending.' will he play well when the supporters cheer him up? will he want to win the match or just want to play for fun? will he enjoy seeing his co team mate giving him over work? if a lion is strong to day he needs to be more stronger tomorrow, because more challenge will come, those he defeat today will prepare to fight back more hard next. what is leadership? is living and doing, he can only have moral justification to correct his team mate who are under his control, is not the issues of Rooney and others have done it in the past . A good father knows what is good for his child if the father is loving, the problem today is honor, dignity is not giving to men who younger generation will learn from. what are we teaching the children who want to be like him tomorrow? are we saying to be famous you most be doing that, is an attitude that needs not to be accepted, our today society we are loosing what our dignity and accepting everything in the name of personal life.
    you can never lead with out a character, is time we need to know people we honor and sing well of, IF Mchaine or Obama did this what will you say? a lot because you think they are very important, but i think every single individual on the street needs to be responsible for his or her action and stop making human being to be our standard.
    Chun in Germany

    October 25, 2008 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  5. michael durbin

    honestly, is this even worth the (electronic) ink. such lofty journalism. "oh no, is the coach upset about the star smoking..."

    October 25, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  6. Okojie osakoigmen samson

    Smoking is suppose to be an totally unacceptable habit for footballers and sports men generally

    October 25, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  7. Okojie osakoigmen samson

    Smoking is suppose to be a totally unacceptable habit for footballers and sports men generally

    October 25, 2008 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  8. James Smith

    An athlete who smokes is not giving 100% to his team. Even if his 80 or 90% is better than anyone else's 100%, how can you depend on them to not start giving only 70% or 30%?

    Then there is the issue of public image. Like it or not, professional athletes are role models. To behave in an irresponsible manner about something as deadly as smoking is giving the figurative finger to fans.

    Personally, I would drop him from the team immediately and replace him with someone dependable.

    October 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  9. Dimson sampson

    Gallas is a captain both on and off the pitch, smoking is dangerous to health, if he sets such an example, i wonder what he expects from others!

    October 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  10. Kofi Bruku

    It is unacceptable especially if you are the captain of such a young squad as Arsenal's. Something that affects your health obviously affects your play and I think I now understand why he (Gallas) plays so poorly of late. Come to think of it, if smoking wasn't such a bad thing I don't think footballers would be sneaky about it. I support Wenger 100% and hope he punishes Gallas for this unacceptable conduct.

    October 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  11. J. Sutton

    Wenger is quite right. Top footballers are role models and icons for the younger generation. They should set an example and not behave as if smoking is " cool ". Secondly you can't maintain peak fitness and smoke and keep late nights. He is paid a lot to be at peak fitness at all times.

    October 25, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  12. barry guess

    I am more ticked off with the fact you people are putting
    the scores right in top stories, the fans have been recording
    through the night to watch when they get up, do I have to change
    my home page, please post the scores later in the day.

    October 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  13. Caleb

    Of course Wenger is right. Arsenal haven't been their best for a couple of seasons, and the players know it. The players have to show more commitment and discipline. And the captain puffing on a cigarrete isn't the best way to show it.

    October 25, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  14. Geoff Hawkins

    It ought to but they're not noted for brains..

    October 25, 2008 at 4:59 pm | Reply

    I think Wenger's reaction is odd. players are not slave to their clubs-persona l life of players should be encouraged

    October 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  16. Frantzeskos

    If smoking is a habit for these top class players understood they should be put in place – but having a cig on a saturday night outside a nightclub with your friends is really not a big deal, I don't think they should be critisized.

    October 25, 2008 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  17. erexx

    No one cares... really.

    October 25, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  18. James

    As the captain of a youthful side like arsenal such examples are really not good but,i'm totally not against his action afterall it was unlit

    October 25, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  19. James from nigeria

    I see nothing wrong with gallas having a smoke.Though he should realize he has a job that is against smoking i just think he should respect that.Arsene wenger should talk things out with him.

    October 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  20. douglas osayamwen

    i agree with wenger as a captain williams gallas is to show a good example not the other way around he is a footballer he should know that smoking could reduce his stamina and is bad for your heath

    October 25, 2008 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  21. nicholas kariuki.

    its time 4 gallas 2 lose the captain badge.i think he is the bad link in arsenal defence.being a captain carries a responsibility.

    October 25, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  22. Udom segun

    Smoking, i guess it affects fitness and captain gallas and other's should stay away from it.

    October 25, 2008 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  23. Sydney ZT

    I hate to perpetuate stereotypes but....a Frenchman, a chav, and a Russian caught smoking.


    October 25, 2008 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  24. emee

    I really hate your (CNN's) trolling for responses.

    October 25, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  25. Joe Ekanem

    Arsene Wenger is totally right in criticizing his captain. William Gallas should be an example to other team mates and a mentor to youngsters. He should know better than have a stick of cigarette (lit or unlit) around him.

    Also, the risk of smoking and it adverse effect on Gallas as a player should not be ignored. Soccer is a game that saps energy. Cigarette and soccer should not be made to compete for the little your blood can hold at a time. It would not be far from realistic to assume his recent poor form has a lot to do with his habit.

    October 25, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  26. Festus Obi

    William Gallas as captain ought to lead by example. Prof. Wenger should know that Gallas behavior lately is becoming unbecoming. He has been fumbling both on/off the field of play. The Arsenal team is made of youngster who are stil learning their profession; who need a grown man of Gallas age to look up to. Unfortunately, he is failing in that direction. Gallas doesn't exhibit the qualities of a role model that he ought to be. I challenge Prof to prove me wrong!

    October 26, 2008 at 12:38 am | Reply
  27. tony montana

    Of course Arsene Wenger had a right to criticize or condemn William Gallas. If I were a football coach and I witnessed one of my players walking out of McDonald's with an order of fries, I'd be critical of that too. The performance and health of each player affects the success of the team and future of the coach's position.


    October 26, 2008 at 3:40 am | Reply
  28. Phijo

    let us live in balance...in this interdependent world

    October 26, 2008 at 3:54 am | Reply
  29. jowunger

    To keep the balance is what he should looking for. Don't be extremistic in any direction, even if it means that your managers maybe smoke a cigarette or two.

    Fair Play!

    October 26, 2008 at 4:19 am | Reply
  30. Francis mambea

    Am an Arsenal fan from kenya. I am in total agreement with the manager Arsern Wenger that smoking is bad to players. Gallas is the captain and he should show good example to his team mates. Guys have fan but dont over do it remember we need trophies this season.

    October 26, 2008 at 5:42 am | Reply
  31. George

    I think that a coach's or manager's concern should be on how a player performs inside the lines. If he is good for the job that he does in the court is not anybody's business whether he smokes or not. These are professionals and not high school students and should be treated as professionals. Does anybody care whether a stock analyst,a journalist an army officer , a politician etc, smokes drinks or taking sleeping pills if he is the best you can find?

    October 26, 2008 at 6:01 am | Reply
  32. Sara ALawadhi

    Smoking in no way should be promoted, and especially not by athletes, who are role models for many youngsters. Nevertheless, athletes are people like the rest of us, and should have the choice in doing what they please with their health and personal lives. It’s the media’s responsibility to publish what is appropriate and what not keeping in mind the undeniable effect it has on viewers, and especially the youth.

    October 26, 2008 at 6:34 am | Reply
  33. kentse Bogatsu

    Wenger is right. Of all habits, smoking seems particularly unsightly for footballers. Besides the very real health and moral hazards, there is something perceptively uncool about public smoking by these role models. Personal freedoms are OK as long as they do not compromise the very essence on which your fame and fortunes rely.

    October 26, 2008 at 6:45 am | Reply
  34. Mimi

    I dont view it as a bad habit though arsenal being a more fit team it can hamper his fitness but that shouldnt be a big

    October 26, 2008 at 7:15 am | Reply
  35. smokey the bear

    Although sportspeople do need a good condition and clean pair of lungs on the pitch, I do think it is somewhat revolting if we beget a bigbrother kind of society hounded by meatthrowing journaille safely behind their smug walls. You sound like an ex-smoker and let met tell you :They are the worst lot of them all. Is Wenger an ex smoker too?
    You better can be a happy moderate smoker !
    And what's the advantage of forbidding people to smoke when levels of airborne pollution emanating from traffic and industries are on the rise again.
    You better start writing real articles again instead off egging the mob.
    Bye, Robert from Rotterdam

    October 26, 2008 at 7:34 am | Reply
  36. Chris

    I think everyone knows by now that smoking is a bad idea, however, does it affect professional soccer players performance on the field? I would not think so. It was not uncommon to see players smoke on the sidlelines in South American and Central American matches up to the late 80s. I am quite sure these "smoking" footballers could outrun a sedentary non-smoker any day of the week.


    October 26, 2008 at 8:03 am | Reply
  37. Dan Kohn

    He's 100% correct. Give him a lot of credit. Remember that atheletes are examples for our youth even if they don't plan to be

    October 26, 2008 at 8:36 am | Reply
  38. vincent lungaro

    sports stars are seen as role models by the young fans, therefore, they have a duty , and a serious reponsibility, towards maintaining an exemplary role in their life..........after all they get paid well enough for what they are doing, so refraining from certain bad habits is not much to ask for.

    October 26, 2008 at 8:39 am | Reply
  39. gordonsparks godwin

    thats totally unacceptable,its affects the form of the player,this goes to show his ambition for the season.its obvious he is not leader

    October 26, 2008 at 11:01 am | Reply
  40. Kingsley

    It isnt the right thing to do at all. A player represents the country, the club, the fans. He hasnt done well, but we all shuldnt condem him. Am sory to say this may be he has his reasons. Arsene wenger is right though

    October 26, 2008 at 11:37 am | Reply
  41. Ibifubara

    Well,is not everybody will acept smoking,as a footballer,I think is wrong to smoke cigi,is dangerous to your health, and beside that smokers are liable to die young.

    October 26, 2008 at 11:47 am | Reply
  42. Gentility from nigeria

    I don't see the reason big stars should mess themselves though they thought they are living their lives the way the want them;yes! One may live his life the way he want's it,but what do people says about you.you know i'v thought that one should in most please his fans but i won't blame Gallas much because of his act only that winger should take it easy with his boys.

    October 26, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  43. Rama sidi,,,Kenya RTS

    Discipline in tha pitch should be displayed out of tha pitch too.Wenger should be the next FIFA president.

    October 26, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  44. Femi S

    A rule is a rule...meaning it must be strictly adhered to. If the reams policy states that such habit shouldn’t be seen by Arsenal players in the public....so it must be.
    I hate to see my club been classed along the riffraff clubs without discipline.

    October 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  45. Michael Sko

    Is it in my contract? NO? Get the ... out!!!
    If Wenger think it's really important then it's his work to discuss it with star before making a contract.
    No nothing like this in contract – then it's Wenger's personal problem and his mistake

    October 26, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  46. sjefke

    Unless being a non-smoker is a specific condition of his employment, it is nobody else's business whether he smokes or not.

    The "role model" business is total crap, unless mindless group think and absolute adherance to the fad du jour is one's idea of being a good "role model".

    October 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  47. konjo

    well,well,well.......too bad. As a captain, he should know better than that. He should be reprimanded no doubt and knowing Arsene to be a disciplined figure he should not expect a light punishment. As a role model to the young fans,that surely was not a good example to be seen in public with a cigarette, lit or unlit. You will be surprised to know that a lot of footballers smoke but not it in public.Gallas' case is rather unfortunate.......now he has something to be blamed for his poor performance in recent times.

    October 26, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  48. Mostafa Sidky

    A captain of Team is an example for young and old generations . This was a stupid act .
    Only real friends will tell you the truth in your face .
    With some decent effort you can mend the situation.Good luck.

    October 26, 2008 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  49. rahul

    Of course Wenger is right. He is the manager of the team and is finally responsible for every player's performance. Any negative factor affecting their health/performance is his concern.

    I am shocked this is even an issue on CNN.

    October 26, 2008 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  50. Mike Hunt

    An occasional cigarette will not be detrimental to his game. Blaming his average play this year on one cigarette is a bit extreme.

    He is leaving a nightclub, a place for adults and not a place for children. He didn't expect to be seen by the public eye there. Smoking at a charity event would be a completely different story.

    October 26, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Reply
  51. Ginigeme Ogochukwu M

    In as much as i agree with the fact that it is Gallas's private life i expect him to know that it is not good for his health and as a sports man of his standing.Arsenal forever.

    October 29, 2008 at 7:16 am | Reply
  52. Joanes Mien (Nairobi, Kenya)

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with what a player does outside the field so long as it does not affect their performance in the pitch.A player whose performance is dwindling will continue to dwindle whether he smokes or not and Gallas is a case in point. Why is it that Berbatov and Rooney are performing well despite the smoking allegations?

    October 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  53. Paul Amos

    It's completely diverstating for a high profile succee lad like Gallas to act that way.Succee lad like him are seeing as "role model" by sports enthusiast ,so therefore,he need to lead by example so as to portray good image for himself as a player i the sporting world.
    Paul Amos
    Lagos Nigeria

    December 4, 2008 at 8:42 am | Reply
  54. Paul Amos

    I thought sports people do need good health to enable them carry out there dutie.To me Gallas attitude is completely un acceptable on that scene,so with little effort he can bend the un ruly situation.
    Paul Amos
    Lagos Nigeria

    December 4, 2008 at 9:14 am | Reply
  55. Bernie

    Get a life.

    Chris Brasher, who helped Roger Bannister break the 4 minute mile and who stopped for a pie and a pint in the 1983 london Marathon and still beat 25 year old me to the finish line, was a lifelong smoker.

    Yes we all know it's bad for you...and others around you, but so is spewing out exhaust fumes and I don't see driving being banned? I worked in the fitness business for three decades and always encouraged smokers to pack it in, however I didn't nag and as long as it isn't being blown in the direction of non-smokers, Gallas and anyone else can poison themselves if they want to.

    Perhaps it might be more of an example if he stopped being stroppy with match officials and we might all be able to grow old with a generation of kids that actually respect their elders, rather than being physically and verbally aggressive as these so called professionlas have taught them to be.

    December 9, 2008 at 4:34 am | Reply
  56. tom marrinka

    It is clear naivety to contend that actions off-the-pitch have nothing to do with actions on-the-pitch. Garbage-in, garbage-out is an wise adage that applies very well to sports in all disciplines. Moreover, what does smoking add to you, beyond the obvious health risks that evolve from it? Players are Public property moreover, there is nothing like "their own persons" when off-pitch!!

    January 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.