Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has clarified his “AFCON is a little tournament” comment in heated debate with a Nigerian Journalist.
After Liverpool’s 4-0 victory against Arsenal on Saturday, the German gaffer was speaking about the possibility of losing Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Guinea’s Naby Keita in January to the continental showpiece effect.
“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.
The “little tournament in Africa” comment didn’t go down with most people who have heavily criticized the Liverpool gaffer.
Speaking after Liverpool’s 2-0 victory FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, Klopp was asked by Nigerian Journalist, Ojora Babatunde to apologize, emphasizing that his comment is an insult to the people of Africa.
The dialogue went as follows:
Reporter: Hi Jurgen, during your last pre-match presser, you deliberately called the Africa Cup of Nations a “little tournament”. I think it’s an insult to the players, an insult to the fans, an insult to the people on the continent and I think you owe the continent an apology.
Klopp: I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t mean it like that, I don’t know why you understand it like that, to be honest…
Reporter: That was what you said, I listened to the presser and you said the continent in Africa [is little], that is what you said.
Klopp: I didn’t mean it like that, come on. So I was not even close to it being the idea in my mind that I want to talk about the Africa Cup of Nations as a “little tournament” or the continent of Africa as a little continent, not at all. What I meant was, if you watch the whole press conference then you might have understood it the right way if you wanted to, because I said there are no international breaks until March now. I said, “Oh there’s a little tournament in January” and I didn’t mean a little tournament, I was just saying it’s still a tournament, it’s ironic. It’s still a tournament, a big one. We lose our best players to that tournament.
Reporter: But you wouldn’t say that in Europe, you wouldn’t say a “little tournament in Europe”…
Klopp: I am 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 don’t understand why you thought this to be honest, but that’s really not OK as I would never do that. But that is it now. It was not my intention but you made something [more] of it, so that is not so cool, to be 100% honest.”