PORTO — Jurgen Klopp has insisted his comments were taken out of context after he was engaged in a heated exchange with an angry reporter on Wednesday night.
The Liverpool boss was called out after his side’s 2-0 win over Porto, which he said on Tuesday as he described the Africa Cup of Nations as a “small tournament” while discussing international breaks.
But on Wednesday the reporter, who spoke to Klopp via video link, demanded an apology and believed Klopp would never say a ‘little tournament in Europe’ – but the German defended his comments by referring to the loss of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane highlighted the January event.
The reporter first asked in full: “Hello Jürgen, in your last press work before the match, you deliberately described the Africa Cup of Nations as a ‘small tournament’.
“I think it’s an insult to the players, an insult to the fans, an insult to the people of the mainland and I think you owe the mainland an apology.”
A surprised Klopp replied: “I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t mean it like that, honestly I don’t know why you take it like that…”
The reporter then chided, “You said that, I listened to the press and you said the continent in Africa [is small], you said that.”
Klopp then defended his comments: “I didn’t mean to say it like that, come on. So it never occurred to me that I wanted to talk about the Africa Cup of Nations as a ‘little tournament” or of the African continent as a small continent, not at all.
“What I meant was if you watched the whole press conference you might have understood if you wanted to because I said there was no international break until in March.
“I said, ‘Oh, there’s a little tournament in January’ and I didn’t mean a little tournament, I just said it’s still a tournament, it’s ironic. That’s when even a tournament, a big one. We lose our best players in this tournament…”
But the journalist had not finished yet: “But you wouldn’t say that in Europe, you wouldn’t say a small tournament in Europe…”
Klopp concluded: “I’m not a native speaker, but if you want to misunderstand me, you can always do that.
“I know I would never think like that. Honestly, I don’t understand why you thought that, but it’s really not right because I would never do that. But that’s it.
“It wasn’t my intention, but you made something [more] out of it, so it’s not that cool, to be 100% honest.”
The Africa Cup of Nations will be played in Cameroon and kick off on January 9, the final will be on February 6 and Klopp is set to lose Salah, Mane and Naby Keita to international action.
- Daily Mail Online