Klopp rejects claims his comments on Man City and PSG were xenophobic

Sport

Jürgen Klopp has rejected claims his comments on the financial power of Gulf state-owned clubs were xenophobic or fuelled tensions between Liverpool and Manchester City on Sunday, insisting he would “hate” himself if he were prejudiced in any way.

The Liverpool manager, who has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association over his red card at Anfield, was drawn into the acrimonious fallout from his team’s 1-0 win by an anonymous briefing linked to City. Klopp was accused – with pre‑match comments about Liverpool being unable to compete with three clubs who can “do what they want” financially – of inflaming tensions around a game in which coins were thrown at Pep Guardiola, City fans scrawled graffiti and chanted in relation to the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters, and the visiting team coach was damaged after it left Anfield.

The reference to City, Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain, all Gulf state-owned clubs, was also alleged – anonymously – to be borderline xenophobic. The accusation prompted a stinging rebuke from a manager who has championed inclusivity throughout his career.

“I don’t feel, in this specific case, I don’t feel it at all,” Klopp said of the allegation. “I know myself. And you cannot hit me with something which is miles away from my personality. If I was – I cannot remember the word [xenophobic] – like this I would hate it. I would hate myself for being like this. I have said a lot of times things that were a little bit open for misunderstanding, I know that. It was not intentionally; just sometimes you say things and you think: ‘Oh my God, it can be interpreted like this!’ But this is not one of these moments.”

Klopp believes his assessment of the financial situation at City, Newcastle and PSG has been misunderstood, perhaps deliberately. “That is the life of people who speak in public,” he said. “It is not the first time I am misunderstood. I know what I thought when I said it. If someone misunderstands t

“Do I have to be careful? I have known for years that I am not always careful. I realise as well from time to time that I just answer and say what I think. I try to do that in the future as well because usually it is never my aim to blame anybody or whatever, I just talk about things that I think are not that important in life actually. I say what I know about it, how I judge it or how I see it. I cannot change that. Nothing of the things that were made of it were my intention.”

City have not condemned the chants from their fans at Anfield. Asked about their silence, Klopp, who has until Friday to respond to the FA charge and could be offered a one-match ban depending on the nature of the offence, replied: “This kind of question I would like not to answer. We responded as a club [with a statement about the chants and coin throwing]; that is what we had to do. That’s it. Apart from that everything from a non-native English speaker would be open to misinterpretation again.”

Klopp described Guardiola and Erling Haaland as the best manager and striker in the world respectively on Friday but, on the fractured relationship between Liverpool and City, he said: “I am not sure we have to be best friends with other clubs. I am not sure anybody wants to be best friends with us.”

Klopp revealed that the Portugal international Diogo Jota would miss the World Cup after tearing a calf muscle in the final minutes of the win on Sunday. Jota, who will not require surgery, is the second left-sided attacking option at Liverpool to sustain a serious injury in recent weeks, after Luis Díaz. “It is very sad news for the boy, for us and for Portugal,” said Klopp.