Football as a sport is an incredibly communal experience. Singular moments of brilliance might lift you out of a dire situation, but most days require a collective effort to obtain a result. Liverpool Football Club has always worn that sense of community broadly, being a club that sought to knit itself into the fabric of its city and reflect the hard working values of its residents. Bill Shankly often reflected on that communal sense, with one of his most famous quotes opining on that very nature of shared work and responsibility on a football pitch:
“A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.”
However, one of the understated things in world football - especially for a club with a fanbase as far-flung and diverse as Liverpool’s - is that even spaces that should ostensibly be welcoming, sometimes aren’t. And, sometimes, when members of marginalized groups raise concerns, they are accused of making things political - often forgetting that our mere existence in particular spaces is in itself political.
It should be paramount for all sports clubs to seek to include all people regardless of background. Given Liverpool’s unique political leanings - ones rooted in collective philosophy - it should be natural. Good news, then: the club has been holding meetings on this very issue and even have a staff position to oversee such efforts.
In a report released earlier today, the club have noted the happenings at the most recent gathering in which the club have gladly reported on recent efforts on inclusion, including participating in the local Pride events and having club figures wear Pride-themed items during a match, creating spaces for fans with disabilities at Anfield, and creating youth events around an anti-racism campaign. All told, the club is certainly doing work.
Fan input, though, notes unsurprisingly that more ought to be considered. A few fans were quoted at the event as hoping for Liverpool to address issues of Islamophobia. With players like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane being Muslim, these issues are of particular concern and value to the club.
All told, it is a comfort to know that the club are doing work around inclusion. The report goes on to state that fan surveys indicate a rating that is above the average experience across the Premier League. Here’s hoping that the club and its supporters might be able to work to ensure that all fans will feel welcomed at Anfield.