FA CHARGE IS RIGHT, KLOPP CROSSED THE (WHITE) LINE
LET’S start with the obvious. Nobody wants to see the emotion removed from football. The passions released by local derbies, by last-minute winning goals, by two teams toe-to-toe in a title race, are what make the sport so compelling. Yet equally, the white line is there for a reason. It separates us from them, the players. That’s why it is sacred. So the Football Association are right to lay a charge against Jurgen Klopp, even threaten a ban if he enters the field of play again. Not because he has committed the crime of the century. What happened at Anfield was largely harmless. Divock Origi scored in the sixth minute of injury time, Klopp momentarily lost his mind and found himself on the pitch, celebrating with his goalkeeper Alisson. He knows he was wrong and apologised immediately after the game. So it’s not a capital offence. It is, however, a precedent if allowed to go unchecked. The next manager to do it might provoke a furious reaction from the opposition bench, or fans; it might not be the last act of the afternoon; there might be another hour to go with tensions raging. Chris Kavanagh, refereeing his first Merseyside derby, is not a greatly experienced official and did not do his duty, which was to dismiss Klopp. Perhaps he thought to take action would be more incendiary than the invasion itself, or that it would be a meaningless gesture, given there were seconds remaining. Even so, it needed to be done. A referee would not resist a second yellow card to a player because the whistle was about to blow. What is the difference? Had Kavanagh acted, perhaps a warning from the FA would have sufficed. Last season, Jose Mourinho encroached on to the pitch when Manchester United played at Southampton. He wasn’t over by much, six inches or so, but Mike Jones, the fourth official, pointed it out to Craig Pawson, the referee, and he was directed to the stands. Manchester United loyalists were appalled, but it was the right call. Anything not stopped is encouraged. Pawson drew a line in the sand. The FA regarded that as sufficient and, wisely, took no further action. The point had been made. No doubt Pawson also considered that the game was going on when Mourinho transgressed. The ball was dead for Klopp against Everton. It’s not as if there was a risk of interfering with play. Even so, it cannot happen again and it is the FA’s job to ensure that. A firm reminder of his responsibilities should suffice, but the charge is justified.