(Spoiler alert: it’s not).
This time, Jürgen Klopp sat down with Paul Amann, the founder of the LGBTQ+ group Kop Outs to discuss the chants and how it feels from the perspective of a gay fan to hear them - and what can be done about it.
(Spoiler alert #2: it’s not great to hear them that’s for sure).
“We developed Kop Outs because there is an issue of homophobia in football,” Amann began.
“There is something not right there in terms of the environment. And I’ve got too many LGBT+ friends who have expressed discomfort at being at the match or don’t want to go to the match because they are scared they might be left feeling uncomfortable.”
Liverpool FC has worked closely with Kop Outs through their Red Together initiatives in an effort to combat these types of discriminatory actions from fans, to create the most inclusive club in football, although issues like last weekend can still rear their heads.
“I never understand that, why you would sing a song that is against something in a football stadium. I never got that. I never liked it and I don’t like this,” Klopp said of the ugly ‘rent boys’ chant that was used last weekend.
For Klopp, the solution to it was simple: sing another song. And that can be argued as maybe overly simplistic, as it doesn’t quite combat the root of the problem - that these people that sing this chant, think that being gay is something negative, to be frowned upon and made fun of for. That being gay is worthy of ridicule.
If it were so easy for these people to choose another chant, why hadn’t they done it already? It’s 2021, and these fans are still getting away with it “for a bit of banter” when it’s clearly just hurting other fans, keeping them from attending the matches.
Amann described it, “as if a bucket of cold water has been thrown over you in terms of the emotional state that hits you with.”
“What people don’t necessarily realise is that it’s chanted at the player – but actually the people who hear it are fellow fans like myself, who then go from hearing You’ll Never Walk Alone and being embraced in fanhood and that fantastic atmosphere to then suddenly being left in the cold.”
For a club that prides itself on it’s inclusive nature, that is working actively towards making the club more and more inclusive for fans and players alike, it’s always a little heartbreaking to hear of moments like these that still happen. And while their response in the wake of the incident has been encouraging, there still hasn’t been any clear action stating that fans like that are unacceptable at matches, beyond their updated measures to tackle discrimination.
Even those updated measures are disappointingly vague for the public when the club, and even Klopp himself, have the chance to come down hard on these kind of actions from fans.
The other side of the argument is that Klopp has other things to worry about that this discussion with Amann should’ve been as much of a step forward as we can expect from the manager. As nice as he is, as loving and inclusive as we know him to be (or as much as any fan can know someone to be), this should be enough. It’s nice to hear him speak out about it, and at the same time, a little disappointing that he didn’t speak more about it. Both feelings can exist.
We can be happy for the baby steps and still hold the club accountable to do more.