Jurgen Klopp says players shouldn’t have to answer questions about Qatar’s eligibility to host the World Cup, and insists the footballing world, especially the media, hasn’t criticized the game enough awarding of the 2010 candidacy.
Klopp has expressed his opposition to hosting a World Cup in Qatar in the middle of a domestic season, but believes players should not be caught in the middle of political debate.
Advocacy groups have called on players to engage in a debate about the host country’s human rights record, allegations of mistreatment of migrant workers and the legal ban on same-sex relationships. FIFA, however, have written to World Cup teams asking them to focus on football, not morals.
The captains of nine European countries, including England and Wales, plan to wear OneLove armbands at the World Cup as part of an anti-discrimination initiative and in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Tottenham on Super Sunday, the German said he would not be going to the World Cup and said the issues that are raised now should have been raised when Qatar received the World Cup. Cut in 2010.
Read the full transcript of his seven-minute exchange with reporters on the Qatar World Cup below:
Journalist“Are you as enthusiastic as a football fan about this World Cup as you normally would be?”
Journalist: “Is it because of the timing or the issues surrounding it?”
Klopp“Both. I’ll watch the games anyway, but it’s different. I watched an old documentary about the whole situation.
“When it was announced that Russia and Qatar would be the next places for the next two World Cups, I think it was the first time in history that they announced two in one. We all know how that happened and how you can still let it happen. .
“Nothing legal after that really led to a…, ‘Now it’s open, now everyone knows’. It was still hidden everywhere and you think, ‘Wow, how could they let that happen?’ That was 12 years ago, and now it’s coming.
“It has nothing to do with Qatar and they want the World Cup, now it’s there. The moment you put it there, everything was clear. The people back then, everyone who was involved, should have known.
“As we later talk about human rights in the sense that people have to work there in circumstances that are, to put it mildly, difficult.
“We couldn’t play the World Cup there in the summer because of the temperature, [but] it is now quite warm [there].
“There wasn’t a single stadium in Qatar, maybe one, so they had to build stadiums there. No one thought about it, I don’t think anyone mentioned it that day So someone had to build them because they don’t just pof [out of thin air]and there is a new stadium.
“That’s the situation, and it can make you angry. How not to?
“Again, I look at it from a footballing point of view and I don’t like that players, from time to time, find themselves in a situation where they have to send a message. You are all journalists, you would have had to send a message You didn’t write the most critical article about it – and not because it’s Qatar and all… No.
“There we are guilty. Now we tell the players that you have to wear this armband and if you don’t you are not on their side and if you do you are on their side. No, no , they are footballers, it is a tournament, and we have to organize it, the players go there and play and do their best for their country, it has nothing to do with the circumstances.
“I already see in the news, ‘How’s it going here?’, and that kind of stuff and everything is not OK for the players. It’s a tournament, it’s there, and we all let it happen. and it’s okay because 12 years ago no one did anything then we can’t change it now, go ahead.
“There are great people there and it’s not all bad at all. It’s just that the way it happened wasn’t good in the first place. But now it’s there, let them play the games, just let them play the games, the players and managers. And don’t just constantly put Gareth Southgate in a position where he has to talk about everything. He’s not a politician, he’s the England manager. Let him be.
“If you want to write anything else about it, do it, but do it yourself rather than just asking us and all that stuff – ‘Klopp said’ and ‘Southgate said’ – as if it would change something. We all, you more than me, let it go 12 years ago.”
Journalist“I would say the media has done more to expose human rights issues.”
Klopp: “But not then, not then”.
Journalist: “More than the football community has.”
Klopp: “How is it possible? At that time it was just a story that it happened and there it was already clear what was going to happen.
“To follow this and think, ‘It’s hard to build the stadiums in Qatar because you have to build them in their summer’, and it’s 50 degrees or whatever in the summer. It’s not good for humans d to be outside [in that temperature] and doing hard physical labor is actually impossible. None of these guys and there would have been all the time in the next four years to say, “The process was wrong, a lot of people took money for the wrong reason.”
Journalist“There were a lot of…”
Klopp: “I know it happened but nothing has changed.”
Journalist: “The footballers in the first place made the decision, on FIFA.”
Klopp: “No, they were football politicians. Again, you feel personally – I can see on your face that you feel personally blamed by me because I mentioned that the journalists should have done more. Look at your body language, how do you sit there now? Honestly.” [Klopp imitates one of the journalists]
“‘No, we did it. But nothing happened. The football people did it’.
“Do you really think we did enough in the first place? Now make a story out of it, now when it happened, now come out of a corner and now put the players under pressure?
“That’s what you’ll do by questioning these kinds of things, asking these kinds of questions, asking Harry Kane if he’ll wear [the rainbow armband], with Harry Kane saying he will wear it. The other guys say, ‘Please don’t make political statements. It’s not OK.
“The thing is organized by other people and I’m not saying that you let it happen, but we all let it happen.
“That time it was all on the table, it was all on the table. Yet somehow Mr. (Sepp) Blatter came out of it and others did too. So long ago that some of the worst guys are already dead. It was so long ago that we could have sorted it out.
“It’s not about saying anything about Qatar, they want the World Cup for some reason, that’s fine. I want a lot of things and I don’t take them and I keep going. We don’t “We can’t have it all. I’ll watch the games of course, but yes, it’s different from other World Cups.”
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