Jurgen Klopp’s poor disciplinary record and his failure to heed previous conduct warnings were aggravating factors which led to the Liverpool manager receiving a two-match touchline ban for implying bias by referee Paul Tierney.
Klopp was fined £75,000 and will not be in the technical area for their final Premier League home game of the campaign against Aston Villa on Saturday but the second match of his punishment has been suspended until the end of next season.
The German admitted a charge of improper conduct in that his comments about Tierney implied bias, questioned the integrity of the referee and brought the game into disrepute.
Klopp, who was booked for celebrating in the face of fourth official John Brooks after Diogo Jota’s added-time goal in the 4-3 win over Tottenham last month, suggested in post-match interviews what Tierney had said to him in issuing the caution was “not OK” and went on to add “we have our story, history, with Mr Tierney. I really don’t know what this man has with us”.
The independent disciplinary commission, in its written reasons, said the Professional Game Match Officials Limited viewed Klopp’s comments as an “unwarranted attack on Mr Tierney’s integrity” and so immediately issued a statement in defence of the official.
Klopp later apologised, clarifying his words and denying he had questioned Tierney’s integrity and while that, and his letter to the commission, were deemed “considerable mitigation” it was his history which counted against him.
“Mr Klopp has a poor record for disciplinary offences, having appeared before commissions on three occasions in the past five years,” said the commission in its written reasons.
“In November 2022 in an appeal in which two members of the present commission sat, Mr Klopp received a touchline ban, a fine and a warning.
“Those sanctions plainly failed to deter Mr Klopp from committing nine similar breaches of the rules. Mr Klopp is a high-profile individual in the football world. He must have known that what he said would attract widespread publicity.
“He should have realised that it was incumbent on him to restrain himself and to behave properly.
“The statements that Mr Klopp made/adopted were not limited to comments on the immediate match, but extended to allegations of persistent bias against a blameless referee.
“The intense media interest that followed Mr Klopp’s remarks was highly damaging.”
Klopp created a problem for himself when he charged down the touchline following Jota’s goal after Tottenham’s 90th-minute equaliser had cancelled out Liverpool’s earlier 3-0 lead.
From evidence obtained from the officials’ audio, Brooks told Tierney “Jurgen Klopp has just run and celebrated in my face. I think it’s a yellow card mate, minimum”.
VAR backed up Brooks’ opinion and in booking Klopp, Tierney said: “I have to show you yellow… it could be red, but I am going to show you yellow. We will give you the benefit of the doubt, don’t do anything more.”
Those were the comments Klopp deemed “not OK” but it was not his behaviour on the pitch which produced the disciplinary charge but the aspersions he cast at Tierney, which he subsequently withdrew in a press conference a couple of days later and in a letter of apology to the commission.
Liverpool, in their own letter, stressed Klopp may have misunderstood Tierney and “they do not believe that Mr Tierney purposely gives decisions against LFC and that any suggestion that Mr Tierney was biased or not wholly impartial was totally unintended.
“Mr Klopp did not wish to suggest that Mr Tierney was dishonest, just that there were a long list of key decisions which he felt aggrieved by that have involved Mr Tierney.
“Both LFC and Jurgen Klopp regret that his comments have become a story in themselves and that there has been any question mark cast over Mr Tierney’s impartiality – that was not intended.”
Klopp spelled out his regret in his own letter, saying: “Although it was not my intention I accept now it appears that I was questioning Mr Tierney’s integrity. I take ownership of this. On reflection, the words I used were inappropriate.
“To be absolutely clear, I know that Mr Tierney, along with all other officials, do their work without any pre-conceived bias or prejudice.
“Although not an excuse, I believe we have made up a high percentage of Mr Tierney’s matches this season? Something in the region of 20 per cent of the matches he has officiated have involved my team.
“I do not offer this as a defence, rather it is an observation and could be a reason for both the build-up of frustration governed by an inadvertent accumulation of incidents over an extended period.”