Friday 26 May 2017

Jurgen Klopp takes aim at FIFA and Marco van Basten for putting football 'in danger'

Jurgen Klopp takes aim at FIFA and Marco van Basten for putting football 'in danger'
Jurgen Klopp takes aim at FIFA and Marco van Basten for putting football 'in danger'

Jack de Menezes

Jürgen Klopp has criticised Fifa’s decision to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, and after its technical director, Marco van Basten, recommended scrapping the offside law, the Liverpool manager accused to international governing body of putting the game “in danger”.

The Fifa Council voted unanimously to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026, with a completely new format seeing 16 groups of three teams take part with the top two progressing to the knockout stages.

Even though it received unanimous support from Fifa’s 211 associate members, it has received widespread criticism due to the fear that it will lower further the importance of World Cup qualifiers as well as the tournament group stage.

Klopp has joined those to express concern, and with former Netherlands international Van Basten this week raising 10 points that he hopes to change in world football, the Liverpool boss asked why do the governing body constantly feel the need to change the rules of what is a successful model.

“My opinion is this wonderful game that we all love doesn’t need rule changes,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“What we are doing, with the world championship changes, puts the game in danger. They try to squeeze everything out of it but I don’t think they care about the future of football.

“(Marco van Basten) can create another game. There is enough pitches around the world.”

Klopp’s frustration with Fifa has largely stemmed with their lack of communication over the eligibility of Liverpool defender Joel Matip. The centre-back refused to join the Cameroon squad for the African Cup of Nations this month after retiring from international football in 2015, but the Cameroon Football Association claim he has to answer the call-up and any refusal means he cannot play for a club under Fifa’s laws.

Liverpool contacted Fifa for clarification over Matip’s situation, but are yet to receive a decision over whether he can play or not, and Klopp revealed that he has not yet heard from the governing body.

"No, we don't have an update. Fifa mentioned to us this [Friday] would be kind of D-Day,” Klopp said.

“It’s difficult because there is not a lot of training time. But I had to put me out of this case because I have to be concentrated on other things. There's no news on it until now.”

However, Klopp gave his backing to the African Cup of Nations as a tournament he regards as “great”, although he did express some frustration with it landing in the middle of the season every two years.

“We cannot change it (Matip) or turn it in our direction. It’s another experience,” he added.

“But do I have problems with AFCON? Absolutely not. It’s a great tournament. In the middle of our season, that makes it not too cool but I don’t think about it.”

(© Independent News Service)

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