Former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has been inducted into Liberia’s Order of distinction, the country’s highest national honour, at a ceremony held in Monrovia, on Friday.
The Frenchman was decorated by the football star-turned president George Weah.
Liberia president George Weah today gave OBE Arsène Wenger the Order of Distinction and the title of Knight Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption. pic.twitter.com/UONL60un0s— Ahmed (@Ahmed91Gooner) 24 August 2018
The Liberian President, the only African to have been named Fifa World Player of the Year, was signed by Wenger in 1988 when he was a coach for Monaco.
Claude Le Roy, another former coach of Weah, was also awarded at the ceremony.
The two tacticians held a meeting with Weah on Thursday (23 August), after which the triad attended a local match between Arsenal and Manchester United supporters.
President George Weah honours former coaches Arsene Wenger & Claude Le Roy Liberia’s highest national award; Humane Order of African Redemption with the rank of Knight Grand Commander. pic.twitter.com/VAejKCYry2— Emma Adu-Gyamfi (@iam_adugyamfi) 24 August 2018
Criticism of the award
Several Liberians have argued that the honour should not have been given to an individual for what he had done for the president personally, but to someone who has done something directly for the country.
Opposition politicians have called Weah’s decision to award Wenger and Le Roy with the country’s highest honour ‘a complete waste of time.’
‘The nation's highest honour cannot be given to somebody who has not done something directly for the country,’ opposition politician Darius Dillon said.
Defending the move, Liberia’s Information Minister Eugene Nagbe stated that the two tacticians were honoured because of the contributions they had made to sports in Africa, not because of their relationship with Weah.
Weah: ‘Wenger took care of me like a son’
President Weah has said that the former Arsenal manager took care of him 'like a son' when he went to Monaco, adding that ‘besides God, without Arsene’ there was no way he would have made it in Europe.
After four seasons at Monaco, Weah went to Paris Saint-Germain where he remained three years and then to Milan, where he played for six years.
He retired from football in 2003 and went into politics.
In 2014 he was elected senator and in December 2017, after winning the run-off with former vice president Joseph Bokai, Weah became president of Liberia.