In an attempts to "avoid any distractions" Xherdan Shaqiri's presence in Belgrade may inspire, Jurgen Klopp opted to leave the Swiss international out of his Liverpool squad for this week's Champions League tie against Red Star.
An understandable decision given the hostile reception that would have awaited a player unafraid of celebrating his Kosovar heritage, Klopp's determined effort to be "focused 100% on football" came undone as Liverpool suffered a surprising defeat in the Serbian capital tonight.
Klopp on Shaqiri: "It's not sad, it's the world, politics always has an influence on life. We are here to play football. We didn't want a story beside a football story and that's why we decided."
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) November 5, 2018
After playing a pivotal role Liverpool's 4-0 defeat of Red Star in Anfield, Shaqiri had deemed himself up to the challenge of playing in the fiery atmosphere of Belgrade.
Although too quick a conclusion may be drawn between Liverpool's relative impotence in front of goal, and the impetus Shaqiri could have given to their lagging efforts, many Liverpool fans believe Klopp was incorrect to leave the former Stoke City man out.
You know what, I'm really hating the Shaqiri decision now. Why have we bowed to that? Shaqiri has done literally nothing wrong. Imagine if clubs stopped bringing players who get stick at certain grounds on away days.
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) November 6, 2018
We should not have left Shaqiri out the squad, don't care about the country's politics, I would have said to Shaq if you score don't celebrate.
— Jack Griffiths (@JGriffiths993) November 6, 2018
Klopp should have brought Shaqiri, can't be considering political implications at this level.
— Tomás Keating (@MossBoxx) November 6, 2018
Respect to Liverpool players for showing solidarity with Xherdan Shaqiri by not turning up in Belgrade either.
— Andrew Stewart (@andrewastewart) November 6, 2018
A decision that had dimensions to it far beyond the footballing sphere, Shpend Ahmeti, a Kosovar politician, argued on more ideological grounds for Shaqiri's inclusion in tonight's game.
Writing on his Twitter account, Ahmeti argued; "Shaqiri should have been in Belgrade tonight and we should never treat fascism with fear and respect!"
— Shpend Ahmeti (@ShpendA) November 6, 2018