Ex-refs chief says Jürgen Klopp right on 'crazy' call that cost Liverpool - 'Some laws are nonsense'

Jürgen Klopp screams in the face of assistant referee Gary Beswick during the match between Liverpool and Man City in 2022.
Jürgen Klopp hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with referees during his time with Liverpool. -Credit:Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp has been in more of a mood to speak his mind in recent weeks as the end of his Liverpool tenure edges nearer. This weekend will mark his final game in charge and he has seemingly felt able to air his views more openly as a result.

Liverpool could easily have won more than one Premier League title under Klopp had just one or two fine margins swung its way, with the Rodri non-handball decision against Everton in 2019 brought up this week by the German as one that stands out to him.

"By the way, that’s a situation that is really crazy to me," Klopp told The Anfield Wrap. "So that handball, I don’t know where we played but the whole team was in the bus.

READ MORE: FSG could buy club that brought through Philippe Coutinho as Liverpool owners plot next steps

READ MORE: Arne Slot plays down Liverpool pressure as announcement of Jürgen Klopp successor edges closer

"Everton vs City is on the television, we watch it, and that situation happens. The whole bus shouts handball! And then 'Wait, he’s not giving it!?'. So it’s like these moments… but you cannot go back in time and you cannot change it."

And former head of Premier League officials Keith Hackett is in agreement with Klopp. "It was a bad one," he tells when asked about the Rodri decision. "When you look at VAR, it should bring clarity and we should get these decisions right. The handball law, just like the offside law, is abject nonsense. What they have tried to do is clarify what handball is but in effect, they've muddied the waters.

"Let's get back to the laws that said handball was deliberate and leave it at that, rather than talk about body shape. It is easy to draw a sketch of someone with their arms out. But what that doesn't tell you is that the hand and arm have been used for elevation. Or if you spin quickly, the hands and arms are part of body mechanics. Let's give the forward the benefit of the doubt."

With clubs set to vote on potentially removing VAR from the Premier League during the summer, the conversation around the technology is set to continue. But rather than remove it completely, altering the laws and making them more suitable for a VAR era might be the best way to go.

"The offside law at the moment needs to be amended," Hackett continues. "We've got to get back to the referee making decisions, and not over-relying on VAR. And we've got to have a guy sat there who is a specialist in that role.

"Let's monitor their performances and educate and guide them so the referee has trust in their colleagues. If they don't perform, just like a striker in the Premier League who isn't putting the ball in the net, they might find themselves out of work."

That is the question that many people keep coming back to with VAR: does the main issue lie with the technology, the people using it, or both? Klopp has often been vocal with his criticisms of referees and ahead of facing Aston Villa, joked that the PGMOL was testing him by putting Simon Hooper on the match. His comings together with Paul Tierney have been well-documented too.

"His emotions come out at times but he is a passionate guy," Hackett says of Klopp. "He's done a great job for English football and he is an outstanding manager.

"The reality is that sometimes storming down the touchline and having a blast in the left ear of the assistant is a bit OTT but like anyone that has worked throughout the week, we all like to see managers who are passionate rather than ones who are sitting there on their hands and saying nothing.

"I put in place match delegates in the Premier League to have channels of communication for the manager to express views with the referee and the bosses of the PGMOL and to have former players and managers reviewing decisions. There are areas of activity in place that can help.

"Improve VAR or bin it? At the moment, I'm leaning towards binning because I don't think it adds to the game. I don't expect decisions to be sanitized but I expect them to be improved. In football, changes that come in, I never think cannot be taken back, reviewed, and improved. I've said in the past that having VAR specialists would improve things."