Jordan Henderson says sorry to LGBTQ+ community for hurt caused by Saudi move

saudi henderson
Jordan Henderson said of the Saudi move, "My intention was never, ever to hurt anyone.'' Credit: @ettifaq

Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has apologised for any hurt he has caused to the LGBTQ+ community following his move to Saudi Pro League club Al-Ettifaq.

The midfielder was a high-profile and vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, but has been heavily criticised after agreeing to a lucrative switch to the Saudi side.

In an interview with The Athletic, the 33-year-old said the angry reaction to his move to a country which criminalises homosexuality has hurt him and hopes his presence in Saudi Arabia can help bring about positive change.

He said he would not "rule out" wearing rainbow laces while playing for Al-Ettifaq but added, 'I have never tried to change laws or rules in England, never mind in a different country where I'm not from. So I'm not saying that I'm going there to do that.'

Henderson went on to say that he understood the frustration and anger of fans but said his intention was 'never, ever to hurt anyone'.

Henderson led Liverpool to trophies and honours galore across 12 years at the club. Credit: PA Images

When told England's LGBTQ+ fan group Pride in Football had urged its followers to turn their backs on him, Henderson said: "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."

Henderson said he understands the criticism he received, but insists his values and beliefs have not changed.

Al-Ettifaq were widely criticised for appearing to censor Henderson's support for the LGBTQ+ movement by greying out his rainbow armband on an image of the player when announcing his signing on social media.

When asked if he would still wear his rainbow laces, Henderson said: "I wouldn't rule that out. But at the same time, what I wouldn't do is disrespect the religion and culture in Saudi Arabia.

Henderson, who dismissed reports he was earning £700,000 a week, said he has not been asked to promote Saudi Arabia on social media as part of his deal.