Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp clashed with a reporter following the German’s previous comments regarding the upcoming edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) starting in January 2020.
The reporter demanded that the coach made an apology for a comment he made on the AFCON tournament, where Liverpool are set to lose Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Naby Keita (Guinea), and Sadio Mane (Senegal) for the month-long tournament starting 9 January and ending on 6 February next year.
Last weekend, the 56-year-old was asked about the relief of having no international break until next year March.
“I’ve heard that so often that there’s no international break until March. In January, there’s a little tournament in Africa, I just want to say, and I think Asia is playing games, too – South America as well, great, can’t wait,” Klopp said on Saturday.
During the post-match press conference, a reporter probed Klopp on whether he would apologise for calling Afcon a “little tournament” as it was insulting to players, fans and the people.
“I think it`s an insult to the players, an insult to the fans, it`s an insult to football and it`s an insult to the continent. I think you owe the continent an apology,” said the reporter.
After the journalist demanded an apology, Klopp replied: “I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that. “It’s not even close to the idea in my mind that I want to talk about AFCON as a little tournament, or the continent of Africa like a little continent, not at all.”
Klopp insisted that his comment was meant as a frustration in an ironic sense and not as an insult to the tournament.
“What I meant is, because people said, and if you watch the full press conference, if you wanted to understand it in the right way you could have understood it in the right way. I said ‘there’s no international break anymore until March’ and I said: ‘Oh and there’s a little tournament in January,’ and I didn’t mean a little tournament, just like you say it when there’s still a tournament. It’s ironic. There’s still a tournament. A big one. We lose our best players to the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I’m not a native speaker, but if you want to understand me wrong you can do that all the time. I know that I would never think like this. I never understand why you thought like this to be honest, but that’s really not OK, because I would never do that, but that’s it now.
“It was not my intention, but you made something of it. That’s not so cool as well to be 100 per cent honest.”
Liverpool recorded their fifth victory in the UEFA Champions League group stages in a 2-0 win over FC Porto at Anfield on Wednesday.