Jordan Henderson has admitted that he was ‘hurt’ by the reaction to him moving to Saudi Arabia this summer, but has added that there is no certainty that he will continue to wear the rainbow laces or rainbow armband going forwards.
The England midfielder, who was deemed surplus to requirements at Liverpool come the end of last season, make the move to Al-Ettifaq over the summer in a deal worth £12m, reuniting with Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard in the process.
He received a lot of criticism for his decision, with plenty feeling as though he had let down the LGBTQ+ community that he had formerly been an ally of, thanks to the illegality of homosexuality in the Middle East.
His announcement video for the club only further stoked that fire, with Henderson’s rainbow captain’s armband having been greyed out in what felt like a clear message.
Speaking to the Athletic, Henderson admitted that though he wouldn’t be against continuing to wear the rainbow armband in the Saudi Pro League, he wouldn’t do so if he felt it disrespected the religion of the majority of people in the country.
“I wouldn’t rule that out”, he began when pressed on the situation. “But at the same time, what I wouldn’t do is disrespect the religion and culture in Saudi Arabia. If we’re all saying everybody can be who they want to be and everybody is inclusive, then we’ll have to respect that. We’ll have to respect everyone. And by doing something like that, if that did disrespect the religion, then no, I’m not going to do that. But if the opportunity comes where I can do it and it doesn’t, then yeah, because that’s my values.”
He then added:
“So if I wear the rainbow armband, if that disrespects their religion, then that’s not right either. Everybody should be respectful of religion and culture. That’s what I think we’re all trying to fight for here in terms of inclusion and everything.”
Henderson has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming games against Scotland and Ukraine, but has been warned that his support in many areas of the nation may have dried up.