Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia caused headlines for so many different reasons but perhaps one of the most contentious was the ramifications of our former captain’s decision on the LGBTQ+ community.
In a tell-all interview with The Athletic, our former captain addressed questions on the subject for the first time.
First he was asked by Adam Crafton: “What was it, therefore, that persuaded you? What reassured you [to move to Saudi Arabia despite initial backlash before the move occurred]?”
To which the Sunderland-born midfielder replied: “I think there was always going to be criticism regardless of what I did, whether I stayed, whether I went. So basically I had to make the decision on what was best for me and my family. So the football is the football side. So do I go somewhere to try something new, to grow the game that I love in another country, and grow the league into one of the best in the world? That excites me because I want to grow the sport all over the world. And that got me going, really.
“And obviously the LGBTQ+ community. I can understand the frustration. I can understand the anger. I get it. All I can say around that is that I’m sorry that they feel like that. My intention was never, ever to hurt anyone.
“My intention has always been to help causes and communities where I felt like they had asked for my help. Now, when I was making the decision, the way that I tried to look at it was I felt as though, by myself not going, we can all bury our heads in the sand and criticise different cultures and different countries from afar. But then nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to change”.
The interview continued with some intense questioning for the 33-year-old and later came this from David Ornstein: “England’s LGBTQ+ fan group has been quite vociferous in the last 24 hours, saying there’ll be no more cheering, no more banner with your face on. They’re urging their group to turn their back to the pitch as they feel you have turned your back on advocating human rights…”.
The man picked in the most recent England squad replied: “It hurts to hear that. I do care. I’m not one of these people who goes home, forgets about everything and is just like, “I’m fine, my family is fine, just crack on.” I do think about things a lot.
“But at the same time, I knew people can look at it like that and they’re entitled to their opinion, they’re entitled to feel like that. All I can say is that I apologise, I’m sorry that I’ve made them feel that way. But I haven’t changed as a person”.
These are just two questions plucked from a long interview in which both the views of some members from the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the new captain of Al-Ettifaq side of the story story were shared and it led to a clearly heated debate.
It was always going to be a highly emotive topic and if you can hand any praise to the man to captain us to our only Premier League title, it’s that he certainly didn’t seem to shirk any of the tough questions that came his way.
However, the line that seems to stick out the most is: “All I can say around that is that I’m sorry that they feel like that”, as it seems to really transfer the blame on this debate away from him.
Nobody knows what they would do in his position and even more so how they would answer so many tough questions on this subject matter but it’s no surprise to see the backlash that has come from this interview.
At the start of the summer, Jurgen Klopp’s skipper was one of the most respected footballers in the game but in a matter of months his standing has changed so much.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this matter but it’s certainly tough for us to see a man take such a fall from grace, in such a short amount of time.