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Klopp 'completely in' for Rainbow Laces | Henderson a 'proud' ally

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Jurgen Klopp says he is the "perfect example" of how Rainbow Laces helps to raise awareness about inclusion.

In a conversation with Liverpool Women centre-back Meikayla Moore, filmed at the club's Melwood training group by LFC TV, the Reds manager discusses the campaign and explains how it has inspired him to be an active ally for LGBTQ+ people like her.

New Zealand international Moore, who joined the FA Women's Championship club in August 2020, tells Klopp that his support "means everything", particularly to those from a younger generation who love Liverpool and who may be struggling with their sexuality or gender identity.

"I really love Rainbow Laces, every year when it happens," Klopp says to Moore.

"I'm a perfect example for it - how the awareness level changes from the moment you put them in."

As an ally, it's so important for us to have people like you who are in our corners and standing behind us.Meikayla Moore, talking to Jurgen Klopp

The campaign's theme for 2021 is 'Lace Up and Speak Up' and Klopp has often been seen wearing the laces in his trainers during its annual activation since he joined Liverpool six years ago.

He explains to Moore how the visibility of the initiative has helped him understand more about the importance of being an ally.

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"I'm 54, I've been through a lot of periods in my life but a lot of problems I've never had," he adds.

"I have so many gay friends but I never thought about how it was when they had to say, 'by the way, mum, dad' - and to everyone else - 'I'm not exactly how you expected, maybe'.

"That's a challenge we shouldn't face, in the way we face it in our life.

"So I'm completely in. It's a great campaign, I have to say, and it looks good!"

Moore, 25, wears laces as "an out and proud footballer" and to let others know that should they need help or guidance, they can reach out to her.

"In women's football, I've been very fortunate that being LGBTQ+ is not as unusual as in the men's game. It's very accepted and the community is very strong," she says.

"But I think for the entirety of football, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done, especially on the men's side, just to make it a platform that it's accepted and that it's OK to be who you are and be true to yourself."

Image: Moore in action for Liverpool in the Continental Cup earlier this season

Liverpool host Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday, in what is the club's dedicated Rainbow Laces fixture.

Klopp will wear laces again on the touchline, and Moore tells him: "As an ally, it's so important for us to have people like you who are in our corners and standing behind us.

"The biggest thing you can do is listen, support and educate yourself if you don't know, because that's an area that a lot more people can maybe place more attention on.

"It's educating because, at the end of the day, we're all people, we're all humans, we're all doing the same thing, we're all kicking a ball around. Your support means everything."

Watch Jurgen Klopp's Rainbow Laces chat with Meikayla Moore in full on Liverpool FC's YouTube channel.

Henderson 'proud' to be seen as an ally

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson says that he shares Klopp's sentiments towards the campaign.

Writing in his programme notes ahead of the clash with Southampton at Anfield, the England international - who scored for his country while wearing Rainbow Laces during Euro 2020 - believes football is making progress on LGBTQ+ inclusion but that more can be done.

Image: Jordan Henderson, wearing Rainbow Laces, celebrates at the Stadio Olimpico after scoring for England against Ukraine in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals

"I can only really speak for myself when I say that it has made an impact in raising my own awareness on the subject," wrote Henderson. "Each season when it comes around, it makes me stop and think about how much further football in particular needs to go before the game can consider itself properly inclusive.

"Be it those who play or people who come to support, you don't have to look very far to see that there is a lot more the game can do, in this country, to be more welcoming."

In his notes, the 31-year-old also addressed the issue of homophobic chanting. Back in August, Klopp urged Liverpool supporters not to sing 'Chelsea rent boy' at opposition players after Billy Gilmour - on loan at Norwich - was targeted during the club's win at Carrow Road.

"Here at LFC, we have seen this season that members of our own supporter base were made to feel unwelcome because some of our fans sang a historical chant which is homophobic. We know this because they had the courage to tell us.

Image: Henderson wore a rainbow captain's armband during Liverpool's Rainbow Laces game against Wolves last season

"I still remember the statement made by Paul Amann, founder of Kop Outs, when speaking to Jurgen about it. He said it made him feel like a bucket of cold water had been poured over him, like You'll Never Walk Alone meant nothing.

"I've since heard that raising awareness around this issue has meant when some fans have tried to sing or shout something homophobic at a game, other supporters now intervene and tell them it's wrong. That's how we progress. By showing that level of solidarity and by drawing a line.

"I've said already I don't feel worthy of being classed as an ally on this subject, but I am incredibly proud to be regarded as one."

Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride which supports Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, back for its annual activation from November 25 to December 12. Your story of being LGBTQ+ or an ally could help to make sport everyone's game - please contact us here to discuss further.

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