Not up to players to protest Qatar World Cup, insists Jürgen Klopp

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Jürgen Klopp said Fifa’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar should make everyone angry 12 years later, but insisted it was wrong to demand a political stance from managers and players involved.

The Liverpool manager will not be present and admits he has no enthusiasm for a tournament shrouded in controversy, from the abuse of migrant workers to the treatment of LGBTQ+ fans. Klopp believes there should have been a solid challenge to Fifa awarding the competition to Qatar in 2010. In the absence of one, he insists it should not fall to Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane to lead protests.

“I watched an old documentary about when it was announced that Russia and Qatar were the venues for the next World Cups,” the Liverpool manager said. “We all know how it happened and we all let it happen. No legal thing then led to a real… what can I say? It was hidden everywhere but now it’s open, now everyone knows about it, and you think, ‘How could this happen?’ It was 12 years ago. It has nothing to do with Qatar. They won the World Cup and now it’s here. But the moment you put it there, everything that followed it was clear. And the people who were involved at the time should have known that.

Related: Qatar police urged to show restraint at World Cup after Fifa talks

“Later on, we talk about human rights in terms of people having to work there in circumstances that are, I say this kindly, difficult. We couldn’t play the World Cup there in the summer because of the weather and there wasn’t a stadium in Qatar, or maybe one. Stadiums need to be built. I don’t think anyone thought that day of anyone building them. It’s not like Aladdin with his miracle lamp and, ‘Boom, there’s a new stadium.’ The situation makes you angry. How can he not?

“I will look at it from a footballing point of view but I don’t like the fact that the players now have to send a message. You are all journalists. You should have sent the message, but you didn’t write the articles the most critical on the circumstances which were clear. There we are guilty. But now we tell the players that they have to wear an armband and if they don’t, they are not on their side. No no No they are footballers, it is a tournament and the players have to go there and play and do their best for their country, it has nothing to do with the circumstances.

“There are great people there and it’s not that everything is bad there, but the way it happened was not fair in the first place. But now it’s there, let them play the game as players and managers. Don’t constantly put Gareth Southgate in a situation where he has to talk about everything. He has an opinion but he’s not a politician, I’m not a politician; he’s an England manager, so let him be. If you want to write about something else, do it, but by yourself without asking us to be ‘Klopp said’ or ‘Southgate said’. As if that would change anything. You more than me let it happen 12 years ago.

Klopp has been told that the media has done more to expose human rights abuses in Qatar than anyone in the football community. “But not then,” he replied. “There were many occasions over the next three or four years that the process was not good and a lot of people took money for the wrong reasons.”

The Football Association must challenge the £30,000 penalty imposed on Klopp for his red card against Manchester City as they seek a tougher penalty. Klopp has been fined by an independent regulatory committee after accepting an improper conduct charge for haranguing assistant referee Gary Beswick in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over City on October 16.

Both the FA and the Liverpool manager could appeal against the penalty after considering the committee’s written reasons and, with Klopp having avoided a sideline ban, the former has confirmed he will challenge the penalty.

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