Liverpool Football Club have issued a list of “unacceptable” words and phrases to their full and part-time staff in an effort to combat all forms of discrimination.
The unusual measure was reported by the Guardian on Tuesday, more than 21 months after an incident at Anfield in which Reds striker Luiz Suarez was found to have racially abused Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra.
It is in the context of the Uruguayan’s behaviour, as well as Liverpool’s bizarre defense of him both on their official website and in a campaign that saw their players and then-manager Kenny Dalglish wear “Suarez” t-shirts at DW Stadium following the player’s suspension, that the anti-discrimination initiative must be viewed. For if the incident had never occurred, the club would likely not have developed such a comprehensive programme targeted specifically at its own employees.
Not that history should in any way detract from what is a meaningful, and hopefully educational, scheme. As Liverpool’s social inclusion officer Rishi Jain told the Guardian, the curriculum also “includes interactive workshops and a handbook which is designed to provide information on the latest equality legislation, including information relating to what terminology is deemed as both acceptable and unacceptable.”
He added: “Liverpool have been actively working with Kick it Out, Show Racism the Red Card and the Anthony Walker Foundation for many years and has been recognized externally for its contribution to helping tackle discrimination and promote Anfield as an inclusive and welcoming environment.”
That being said, Liverpool’s most proactive, brand-repairing measure would seem to be one that may or may not happen this summer: namely, the sale of Suarez to another club.
As the 26-year-old demonstrated last April when he bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, the lengths he will go to in embarrassing Liverpool Football Club seem to know no bounds and do not begin or end with racial insults.
Anfield’s anti-discrimination programme is a positive undertaking, but it would be made even more meaningful with corresponding action in the transfer market over the coming weeks.