(CNN) Liverpool fans booed loudly as “God Save the King” was sung on Saturday at the coronation of King Charles III. played at Anfield.
Television footage showed Liverpool and Brentford players lining up on opposite sides of the center circle before kick-off as the national anthem played. Loud boos and jeers from the crowd could be heard, as well as “Liverpool” chants.
Afterwards, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told reporters he respected it was “a big day for England” but added: “It was clear something like (the booing) was going to happen.
“That’s allowed, otherwise nothing happened,” he said. “It wasn’t chants or anything. People have just shown… they haven’t always been happy in the past with how the people of Liverpool, the city or the club have been treated.”
Liverpool fans have booed the national anthem in the past, most recently ahead of last season’s FA Cup final at Wembley. Many also booed Prince William when he appeared on the pitch that day.
The club confirmed they will play “God Save the King” ahead of their game against Brentford on Saturday to respect the coronation of King Charles III, although they admitted many supporters have “strong views” on the issue.
The decision came after the Premier League requested that the national anthem be played before every game this weekend to celebrate the King and Queen’s coronation services, which took place on Saturday.
“Before kick-off and in recognition of the Premier League’s request to celebrate the coronation, players and officials will gather around the center circle as the national anthem is played,” Liverpool said in a statement on Friday.
“Obviously how they celebrate the occasion at Anfield on Saturday is a personal choice and we know some fans have strong opinions on that.”
Why fans boo?
Why exactly do Liverpool fans have a history of booing the British national anthem? The answer has everything to do with the history of the city itself.
Liverpool suffered from the deindustrialisation of the British economy in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1981, appalling economic conditions combined with tensions between the police and the African-Caribbean community led to nine days of unrest in the city.
After the riots, Margaret Thatcher’s government spoke of an “orderly decline” for the city.
During this decade of Conservative rule, Liverpudlians increasingly saw themselves as outsiders, separate from the rest of the country, and the state’s handling of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 further entrenched these anti-establishment sentiments.
Booing of the national anthem at football matches when the team played at Wembley – a common occurrence given Liverpool’s dominance of English football at the time – became widespread and remains so to this day.
Many fans had the same reaction at the February 2022 Carabao Cup Final and the 2012 FA Cup Final.
Booing the anthem is a way for some supporters of the club to express their opposition to the establishment, and it’s an opportunity to do so in front of a worldwide audience.
The King’s coronation on Saturday also comes at a time when many are feeling the devastating effects of the severe cost of living crisis now affecting the whole of Britain.
High inflation, years of stagnant wages and the sudden and steep rise in energy prices have pushed millions of Britons to the brink of poverty.
At the same time, the British government is spending tens of millions of tax dollars on a glamorous celebration.
Social and economic inequality is something that continues to irk many in the left-leaning city of Liverpool.
Significantly, it was Liverpool and Everton fans who launched Fans’ Supporting Foodbanks in 2015, an initiative aimed at tackling food poverty in the UK.
Commentary by Jurgen Klopp
When previously asked about the club’s decision to play the national anthem, Klopp said: “The club’s position is my position.”
“This is definitely a subject I can’t have a proper opinion on. I’m from Germany, we don’t have a king, queen or anything like that,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I’m pretty sure a lot of people in this country will enjoy the coronation, some might not be really interested, and some might not like it. That’s it. It’s across the country.”
Many feared Liverpool fans would disrupt a minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth II following her death last year, but few isolated boos were heard on the occasion.
CNN’s Ivana Kottasová and Aimee Lewis contributed coverage.