‘Football is an emotional game’: Jurgen Klopp’s measured response to goal celebration controversy

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp provided a thoughtful, lengthy response when asked about the controversy surrounding goal celebrations, with the Premier League tightening its protocols as government issued warnings to players about remaining socially distant in those instances.

The 53-year-old has stated that while his squad “will do their best” to adhere to new protocols after delivering an “incredible job to be disciplined with all the things we had to do around the pandemic,” it will be hard as “football is an emotional game.”

Klopp further elaborated on his view of the situation and here is his answer in full:

“I understand completely that nobody uses common sense any more. In this moment in time, we all wish we would know more about this virus, but we get information step by step by step. Six, seven months we have been playing football in this pandemic. In these games, we scored a few goals, and nothing happened from celebrations.

“I know there are other things to talk about – the role models we should be – but we get tested two or three times a week. We know between the tests there are still two days between the tests where you could get infected. We had cases, but pretty much all of them came when the people left the bubble, for private reasons, for international duty.

“In our situation, it never spread. We get tested. If somebody says from a role model point of view ‘oh I can hug people because they hug each other’ then we have of course a problem. I think people are smart enough to see the difference between people who are constantly tested and people who are not.  

“If we thought that we threaten one or two of our teammates, then we just would not do it. It would not happen. Inside, nothing like this happens. We have team meetings in rooms and I have to shout, the room is that big and the players are apart.

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“I understand the discussion and I have no real solution, but if somebody says now we have to stop the games because of this, when I really think it’s been proven how important football is in this time. I know it’s tough for everyone but it’s tough for the boys.

“Our building is cold the whole day, because all the doors are open, Everybody walks through with warm coats. We try everything, we close the canteen. There’s no point during the week where you can create kind of a group feeling with the boys, because what you’d usually do is say ‘come on, come together’. We cannot do that. We don’t sneak into rooms for meetings. We stick to the rules. So if somebody said now if you do this [celebrate] then we have to stop, I wouldn’t understand.

“I am not the decision-maker, we follow the rules, we try everything, but nothing happened around goal celebrations. There was a good example last week when we played Southampton with Danny [Ings]. I don’t say that’s 100 per cent sure, but if somebody wants to say ‘no, they are too close’ then that’s not right. If you get tested often enough, if you stick to the rules, then you are not that much in danger as you are without getting tested or sticking to the rules. And you can still do some stuff like playing sport outside, these kind of things.

“I understand that we have to have strict rules, because without strict rules society is not disciplined enough and we all know what happens. But we have to learn from things that work, and football worked in the past few months.

“The increased number of cases, it was always clear that the winter would be a challenge because more people are inside, and that Christmas would be a challenge. That was the case for society as well. Now, being surprised that it happened? Just not right.

“People work tirelessly on solutions, and I don’t have them. But what I have is experience in some situations during the week, what works and what doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for the whole outside world, but in a football environment most of these things work.”

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