Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Saturday he felt a sense of “shock” after Premier League rivals Manchester City were hit with a two-season ban from European football.
UEFA announced the sanction on Friday, with European football’s governing body punishing City for what it said were serious financial fair play breaches.
City, who were also fined 30 million euros ($32.5 million), responded by saying they would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“It was a shock,” said Klopp, whose Champions League title holders are well on the way to succeeding City as champions of England.
“Complete wow. The only thing I can say is about football,” added the German as he expressed sympathy for City counterpart Pep Guardiola.
“What they have done on the football pitch is exceptional. The rest, I don’t know.
“You believe the people you work with, that’s how it is,” added Klopp, speaking after a 1-0 win at bottom-of-the-table Norwich that saw the league leaders extend their advantage over second-placed City to 25 points.
“I really feel for them, Pep and the players, but that is how it is. They can appeal so we will see what happens then. It is obviously serious.
“But the football they played was exceptional and will always be exceptional,” insisted Klopp.
Meanwhile former City midfielder Joe Barton said it would be a blow to English football if his old club’s European ban was upheld.
“I don’t like the thought of seeing City not in the Champions League,” said Barton, now the manager of third-tier Fleetwood.
“With that level of a manager and players…you have to be in Europe’s major competition.
“For English football, you want your best teams in that competition,” he added.