There are few things better in this world than Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp turning his righteous anger on something and letting fly. With the 2022 World Cup around the corner, Klopp came out hard against FIFA and the media who were both complicit in the human rights abuses in Qatar that are making this World Cup possible.
Klopp said in his pre-match press conference that everything that happened in the 12 years since awarding Qatar was predictable. And moreover, journalists should’ve been doing their jobs, instead of abdicating responsibility to players and managers.
“The people at that time, everybody that was involved, should have known,” Klopp said. “At that moment that we later talk about human rights in the sense of people have to work there in circumstances which are, putting it nicely, difficult.
“We couldn’t play the World Cup there in the summer because of the temperature, [but] it’s now pretty hot [there].
“That’s the situation, and it can just make you angry. How can you not?
“Again, I watch it from a football point of view and I don’t like that players, from time to time, get in a situation where they have to send a message. You are all journalists, you should have sent a message. You didn’t write the most critical article about it - and not because it is Qatar and things. No. About the circumstances, which was clear.
Klopp, like many other football fans, is concerned about the mid-season World Cup for a variety of reasons. For one, player welfare has again been ignored by football governing bodies, who all want a larger slice of a limited pie, and none are willing to cede any ground for any other competitions.
And then, there is the little matter of migrant worker deaths. More than 6,500 people died to construct these stadiums in places where football, or indeed, any other strenuous activity, just shouldn’t happen.
“Now we are telling the players you have to wear this armband and if you don’t do it you are not on their side and if you do it you are on their side,” Klopp continued.
“It’s a tournament, it’s there, and we all let it happen and it’s fine because 12 years ago nobody did anything then. We cannot change it now, go there.
“If you want to write something else about it then do it, but do it by yourself rather than just asking us and all these kind of things - ‘Klopp said’ and ‘Southgate said’ - as if it would change anything. We all, you more than I, let it happen 12 years ago.”
I realize that we are now doing what the Liverpool boss said not to do, namely quoting him on this topic. Then again, The Liverpool Offside has never been a site to shy away from political topics, and our feelings on FIFA and this World Cup in particular are pretty clear.
Kloppo is right that it is a moral and cowardly failing of the media to hide behind player quotes, as they have done on many other “political” topics.
And he is also right that the time to protest and boycott isn’t now, but should’ve been over the last 12 years, when no one with the power to stop this terrible idea — one that ended in thousands of tragedies and unfathomable human suffering — said a word or lifted a finger.