Jurgen Klopp believes it is unfair to expect players to engage in political protests at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
The decision to host the tournament in Qatar – where male homosexuality is illegal – has long been criticised due to concerns about the country’s human rights record.
England’s Harry Kane will be among eight European captains to wear a distinctive heart-adorned armband at the tournament, in order to raise awareness of the OneLove campaign against discrimination.
Meanwhile, tennis great Billie Jean King has called on players to act as “influencers” in Qatar, but Klopp believes handing down that level of responsibility is unjust.
“I understand 100 per cent that we talk about it,” Liverpool manager Klopp told Sky News after receiving the Freedom of the City on Wednesday.
“But it’s not fair to talk now to the players and give responsibility to them, because it’s more than 10 years ago that other people decided [to host the World Cup in Qatar], and we all accepted the decision.
“I watched documentaries recently about the election of Russia [in 2018] and Qatar, so it’s not about this generation of players to say now that ‘we don’t go’ or ‘we don’t do that’.
“These are the players. The tournament is in Qatar. The players go there and play the game.
“The decision was made by other people and if you want to criticise anybody, then criticise the people who made the decision. Not the sport, not the competition and for sure, not the players.
“It’s not fair that we expect from them that they go there and make big political statements or whatever. It’s just not fair.”
Klopp did offer his support when asked about the OneLove campaign, but reiterated his belief players should not be expected to protest the initial decision to stage the tournament in Qatar.
He said: “That’s absolutely fine, but what I don’t like is that we expect them [the players] to do something. They go there to play football. The big tournament was organised and planned by other people.”
Last week, Australia’s players launched a campaign to highlight World Cup host Qatar’s human rights record.