Former England striker John Fashanu has hit out at Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp for describing the Africa Cup of Nations tournament as a “little” competition.
After Saturday’s 4-0 Premier League win against Arsenal at Anfield, the German tactician talked about the possibility of losing Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mane to the biennial African football showpiece.
“In January, there’s a little tournament in Africa…,” Klopp said.
Reacting to his statement, Fashanu, who is of Nigerian descent and managed two appearances for the Three Lions during his playtime, believes Klopp’s comments is a big slap on black players around the world.
“This is a big slap on black players around the world. I am very disappointed that somebody who we rated as highly as we did can literarily drip that out with his silly mouth,” Fashanu said as quoted by The Punch.
“It is an insult to us all and he owes the continent an apology and he also owes every black football man and woman an apology, to belittle us that way is very dangerous.
“Some black footballers have lost their lives fighting for equality and this man just put us right back by saying our competition means nothing.”
Meanwhile, former Nigeria midfielder Mutiu Adepoju has also condemned the statement by Klopp terming it “selfish interest.”
“That is his own opinion and that is to his own selfish interest because he doesn’t want to lose some of his players,” Adepoju, who earned 48 caps for the Super Eagles and scored six goals, told the same portal.
“How will he feel if we say that the European competition is a little tournament?
“From the way I see it he said it because he doesn’t want to lose his key players and I don’t think one should even pay much attention to him.”
On Thursday, Klopp responded to the media on the matter by stating: “It’s all good, I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why you understand it like that, to be honest.
“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.”
Klopp continued: “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.
“I am not a native speaker but if you want to understand me wrong, you can do that all the time.
“I really don’t… 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 okay 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 percent honest.”