Gareth Southgate 'understands' why comments are being made about the stance Jordan Henderson has taken since his move to Saudi Arabia

Jordan Henderson Gareth Southgate 2022 World CupGetty
  • Henderson left Liverpool for Al-Ettifaq
  • Midfielder defended his choice
  • Southgate keeps Henderson's back

WHAT HAPPENED? The former Liverpool skipper left Anfield after spending 12 years at the club to join the Saudi Pro League outfit in a deal worth £12 million ($15.4m) plus add-ons. He has always been a vocal advocate of LGBTQ+ rights and hence received public backlash for shifting base to Saudi Arabia where homosexuality is not recognised and can even result in capital punishment. There were suggestions that Henderson moved to the Middle East for monetary gains which the defender vehemently denied.

England's LGBTQ+ supporters group, the Three Lions Pride, has threatened that they would turn their back to the pitch if Henderson took the field. However, Southgate put his weight behind Henderson and backed his decision to include him in the English squad.

WHAT THEY SAID: "Well, I understand why, there would be some comment on the stance that Jordan as an individual took and then his decision to go to a country that...where homosexuality is illegal," he told Channel 4 Sport.

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"I don't understand the question around selecting him other than on performance, because we know what we stand for, and that doesn't change."

"So everybody in their lives is going to make career decisions based on any number of different reasons. And yeah, I didn't feel in any way that should be something that ruled Jordan out. We have trade with Saudi Arabia in any number of industries so it's not a situation like we have with Russia where the government have a separate decision and we're not trading and relationships are in a different place. We don't have that. So why would we make that decision on a football basis?"

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Southgate hopes that there will be no protests from England fans if Henderson is fielded against Ukraine and has urged the supporters to get behind the midfielder.

"As a team, I'm sure all of our fans are going to get behind the team when the game starts," he said.

"I understand some of the comments that have been made and I respect the comments that have been made, but what has also said is they will get behind the team when we play, and I'm sure they will get behind Jordan when the game starts as well," he added.


Jordan Henderson 2023 Getty

WHAT NEXT? It remains to be seen if England fans will stick to their threat if Henderson is thrown into the mix in the next two Euro 2024 qualifiers against Ukraine and Scotland respectively.