Last month, I wrote about the many ways that Major League Soccer is reaching out and supporting the LGBT community in the US. Now, for the first time in the UK, a professional football club, Liverpool FC, has marched in their home city’s Pride Parade.
The club had a banner emblazoned with its logo that read, “Liverpool FC Supports Liverpool Pride.” It was carried by club employees and members from the Liverpool’s women’s squad (note who was not there). They also provided signed merchandise for fundraising purposes for various organizations.
In announcing their participation in this event, the managing director of the team, Ian Ayre, said, “Here at LFC, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that equality and principles of inclusion are embedded into all areas of Liverpool Football Club and for many years, we have taken positive steps to promote our stance against homophobia both on and off the pitch.”
The Pride participation came only months after Liverpool FC teamed up with Football v Homophobia for a football tournament at their club’s stadium. This was an important event because, as Paul Amann, the LGBT fans’ representative from the Liverpool FC Supporters’ Committee, said, “This is the first year we’ve done this tournament here in Liverpool. But Football v Homophobia tournaments have been going for six years across the UK with different clubs. Liverpool FC’s involvement is absolutely crucial. We’re often seen as the leaders in football nationally and internationally and to have Liverpool at the forefront of tackling homophobia in football sends a really clear and positive message to everybody involved.”
As I wrote before, these campaigns in support of the LGBT community are still very necessary. Only three male professional soccer players have ever come out publicly: David Testo, Anton Hysen, and Justin Fashanu (who later committed suicide and after whom the Justin Campaign is named). Earlier this year, the Football Association fined Nile Ranger, Manny Smith, and Ravel Morrison for writing homophobic tweets. And in a recent Esquire UK article on the subject of homophobia in the world of soccer, Tim Adams reports that when the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, was asked what gay fans of the sport should do about the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar where homosexuality is illegal, Blatter “smirked and suggested they would just have to keep their hands off each other for the duration of the tournament.”
Good on the Reds for taking such an active role in fighting homophobia in their sport and for supporting the LGBT community in their home city.