Klopp fights back after African journalist accuses him of insulting AFCON
What is unique about this mountain, however, is that it was single-handedly created from a molehill by journalist Ojora Babatunde, after he angrily called out Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for labelling the Africa Cup of Nations as a “little tournament”.
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Klopp’s contentious comments came about when he was asked in a pre-match press conference about the lack of international breaks until March. Liverpool, of course, have several key African players in their team, including Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita.
In response, the German replied: “No international break until March, I’ve heard that so often, but in January there’s a little tournament in Africa, I just want to say.”
Klopp’s comments evidently did not sit well with Babatunde, nor with other African football fans, as seen from the following reactions on social media.
This discontent culminated in Babatunde confronting Klopp in the press conference after Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Porto this morning (SGT), with the former demanding for the Reds boss to apologise for his comments.
Klopp, however, was having none of it. Clarifying that he had actually used the term “little” in an ironic way – like how one might refer to an important issue as a ‘small matter’ – Klopp asked Babatunde to “Stop”, before explaining himself.
“It’s all good, I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that to be honest,’ Klopp said.
“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 AFCON as a ‘little tournament’ or about the continent of Africa as a ‘little continent’, not at all.
“What I meant was, if you watch the full 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 [will] lose our best players to that tournament.”
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Klopp then went on to call out Babatunde for even bringing up the issue in the first place, as he said: “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 per cent honest.”
And that, we hope, should draw a line in the sand to this pointlessly ugly episode.