One of the most political coaches in world football is on his way out.
And that’s sad news for political editors everywhere.
Jürgen Klopp, who has been Liverpool’s manager since 2015, on Friday made the startling announcement that he would step down at the end of the season, saying he was “running out of energy.” Among the top modern tacticians in the game, Klopp is also outspoken about his political views — an exception in a sport where the general rule is to avoid making waves.
POLITICO looked back at his five hottest political takes.
Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage suck
In a 2021 podcast interview, Klopp slammed the top populist politicians in the U.S. and the U.K., questioning their qualities as decision-makers.
“The last two elections, the first with Donald Trump and then with Boris Johnson, that’s really a bad sign for the whole world,” Klopp said.
“Why do we let people like Farage and Johnson lead any kind of group of people in any direction?” he asked, adding: “We have to find a system where we can bring people in the position to sort all our problems … and not the most funny or the weirdest haircut or whatever.”
Brexit ‘makes no sense’
Klopp, a German national, moved to the U.K. in October 2015 — right before 2016 Brexit referendum heated up.
Reflecting on the campaign a few years later, Klopp called for another referendum on EU membership.
“Let’s vote again with the right information — not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign,” Klopp told the Guardian in 2018.
“They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all,” he added.
The welfare state rules
A self-declared left-winger, Klopp fits in well at Liverpool FC, a club with strong working-class roots.
For a 2017 book about his coaching career, he told German journalist Raphael Honigstein he was “on the left, of course.”
“I believe in the welfare state. I’m not privately insured,” Klopp said, adding: “If there’s something I will never do in my life it is vote for the right.”
Antivaxxers are like drunk drivers
As the world tried to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, Klopp took a jab at people who refused to get vaccinated.
“It is a little bit like drink-driving,” he said in October 2021.
“I don’t take the vaccination only to protect me, I take the vaccination to protect all the people around me,” the coach added. “I don’t understand why that is a limitation of freedom because, if it is, then not being allowed to drink and drive is a limitation of freedom as well.”
Qatar World Cup ‘not right’
Shortly before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Klopp criticized the conditions in which the small Gulf state was granted the right to host the biggest football competition in the world — and called out journalists for failing to expose it.
“There are wonderful people there and it is not that everything is bad over there but how it happened was not right in the first place,” Klopp told a press conference two weeks before the start of the World Cup, adding that “the process was not right and a lot of people took money for the wrong reasons.”
“You are all journalists. You should have sent the message but you didn’t write the most critical articles about circumstances that were clear,” he added.