Klopp keen to keep focus on football in Qatar

The Reds boss was asked about the state’s human rights record ahead of his side’s Club World Cup semi-final.

By Press Association Published: 17 December 2019 - 3.50pm

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp side-stepped questions about Qatar’s human rights record ahead of the Reds’ first match in the Club World Cup in Doha.

Concerns have been expressed about the country hosting this event and the 2022 World Cup because of its stance on homosexuality and immigrant workers’ rights, among other issues.

However, Klopp said they had no time to consider the wider picture – and his players should not be asked to do so – as they were focused purely on football.

“I have an opinion on football but this is a real serious thing to talk about I think and the answers should come from people who know more about it,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final against Mexican club Monterrey.

“I have to be influential in football but not in politics. Anything I say wouldn’t help, it would just create another headline, positive or negative.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was speaking to the media ahead of his side's Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was speaking to the media ahead of his side’s Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey (Adam Davy/PA)

“I like that you ask the question but I think I am the wrong person.

“Whoever is organising the competition, wherever it is, they have to think about it. Athletes shouldn’t.

“We represent Liverpool, we are invited so we should go there. If sportsmen have to make a decision about a competition wherever it is in the world that is not right.

“My personal opinion, I have one of course, is of course I think we should all be treated equally, that is clear.

“But we don’t have the time to judge things when we are here, we only have time for training.”

“I have to be influential in football but not in politics. Anything I say wouldn't help, it would just create another headline, positive or negative.”
- Jurgen Klopp

Asked if he had a message for fans who had travelled or who were planning to travel, Klopp added: “I don’t think anyone has to be concerned to come here if they do the normal stuff.

“You have to respect the rules of different countries: I have to respect the rules of England when I am there, it is only cultural but that’s how it is.”

Klopp also played down concerns over the state of the pitch at the Khalifa International Stadium, which will host five matches in as many days – including two games on the same day twice: on Tuesday for the fifth-place play-off and the other semi-final, with the third-place play-off and final taking place on Saturday.

He had criticised the scheduling, forced upon the organisers after the newly-constructed Education City Stadium where Liverpool were scheduled to play both their matches was deemed not ready for use.

We spoke to our groundsman who was here. It is in really, really good condition, the training ground is absolutely brilliant,” he said. “My concern was from England, I’ve never been here or played football here. The pitches are brilliant, so should not be a proper concern.

“When we arrived on Sunday night it was raining hard, it would be difficult on each pitch, but our groundsman said it is built on sand so it will suck all the water off so should not be a concern. So hopefully no concern.”

Amnesty International said the Club World Cup should “act as a reminder to the Qatar authorities”.

“Ever since Qatar was named World Cup hosts for 2022, we’ve been pressing the authorities to drastically improve working conditions for the country’s two million migrant workers,” said director Kate Allen.

“There are now Qatari promises to deal with some of the worst excesses, including a pledge to end the system where workers are tied to unscrupulous employers and have their passports confiscated.

“Despite recent promises over reforms, however, migrant workers in Qatar are still largely at the mercy of exploitative employers.

“As a sort of warm-up for Qatar 2022, the Club World Cup is another important opportunity to remind the Qatar authorities of the need to properly clean up their act on labour abuses.”