DOHA (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, in Qatar for the Club World Cup, said that it is wrong that managers and players are asked to make judgments on the suitability of a country for hosting global tournaments.
The European champions will play Mexico’s Monterrey at the Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday in the semi-final of the FIFA tournament which concludes on Saturday.
Asked at a news conference about whether it was right to play in a country where rights for homosexuals are restricted, Klopp said that was for others to address.
“This is a real serious thing to talk about I think and the answers should come from people who know more about it. I have to be influential in football but not in politics,” he said.
Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022 when fans from 32 nations will flock to the gulf state for a month of football action.
“Anything I say wouldn’t help, it would just create another headline, positive or negative. I like you ask the question but I think I am the wrong person,” he added.
As in a number of majority Muslim countries, homosexual acts are strictly prohibited in Qatar although the law is rarely enforced.
During the preparations for the competition, Qatari officials had met with Liverpool supporters groups, including the LGBT group ‘Kop Outs!’ to discuss their concerns about attending the tournament.
Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore said the club were given assurances by Qatari authorities that their LGBT supporters would be welcomed in the Gulf state.
Klopp said decisions on where to host events were not matters for sportspeople themselves but the administrators.
“We arrived here, we were very welcomed. Everything is organised as it should be. Organising the competition wherever it is they have to think about it. Athletes shouldn’t,” he said.
“We represent Liverpool, we are invited so we should go there. If sportsmen make a decision about competitions wherever it is in the world, that is not right.
“My personal opinion, I have one, of course - I think we should all be treated equally, that is clear.”
The German said fans visiting Qatar should respect the country, as they would anywhere else.
“I don’t think anyone has to be concerned to come here if they do the normal stuff. You have to respect the rules of different countries, I have to respect the rules of England when I am there, it is only cultural but that’s how it is,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge