LONDON, May 1 (AP): Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp risks getting a touchline ban for the team’s upcoming key games over a feud with a referee who was strongly defended Monday by the Premier League’s match officials group.
After Liverpool scored an injury-time winner for a 4-3 victory of Tottenham on Sunday — having given up a 3-0 lead — Klopp ran straight over to the fourth official on the sideline to celebrate in front of him. Klopp, who seemed to pull his hamstring in the process, was then shown a yellow card by referee Paul Tierney.
Klopp acknowledged he deserved the booking for his celebration but then accused Tierney of saying something that was “not OK” and suggested that the referee had some kind of agenda against his club. The German manager also criticized Tierney after last season’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham for failing to send off star striker Harry Kane in the game.
“We have our history with Mr. Tierney. I really don’t know what this man has with us. I really don’t know. He always will say there’s nothing, and it’s not true. It cannot be,” Klopp told Sky Sports after the wild finish at Anfield. “I’m really not sure if it’s me, because how he looks at me, I don’t understand it. My celebration towards the fourth official, I didn’t say any bad words, nothing, but it was unnecessary. I got punished for that immediately, I pulled my hamstring or an adductor or whatever. So fine, that’s fair. But what he said to me then when he gave me the yellow card … it’s not OK.”
However, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited — which oversees referees for the Premier League — defended Tierney after reviewing the audio of his conversation with Klopp.
“Match officials in the Premier League are recorded in all games via a communications system,” the PGMOL said in a statement Monday,” adding that Tierney “acted in a professional manner throughout including when issuing the caution to the Liverpool manager so, therefore, we strongly refute any suggestion that Tierney’s actions were improper.”
Klopp, who also criticized Tierney for awarding Tottenham a free kick that led to the equalizer, could face further disciplinary action ahead of Liverpool’s remaining five games. Fifth-place Liverpool still has an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League, but would need to close a seven-point gap to fourth-place Manchester United, which has played one game fewer.
Klopp served a one-game ban and was warned about his conduct when the English Football Association won an appeal case over the German’s criticism of an assistant referee during a home win over Manchester City in October.
Liverpool has qualified for the Champions League in each of Klopp’s previous six full seasons at the club, going on to win the European title in 2019 against Tottenham and losing two other finals to Real Madrid.
Playing in the second-tier Europa League next season would likely cost Liverpool about 50 million euros ($55 million) in lost prize money from UEFA.
Liverpool next hosts Fulham on Wednesday and also welcomes Brentford to Anfield on Saturday.