Jordan Henderson apologises to LGBTQ+ community but backs down on rainbow laces

Football Digest: Liverpool start the season strong

Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has apologised to the LGBTQ+ community following his move to Al-Ettifaq. Fear of disrespecting the culture and religion in Saudi Arabia is set to prevent the midfielder from wearing rainbow laces, which could mark the end of his participation in the campaign to support LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport.

Henderson has been a vocal supporter of the Rainbow Laces campaign in recent years. His summer move from Liverpool to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal, therefore caused significant controversy.

“I can understand the frustration [in the LGBTQ+ community],” Henderson told The Athletic. “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 have asked for my help.”

When asked whether he would continue wearing rainbow laces as part of the campaign he was such a prominent part of during his time at Liverpool, Henderson responded: “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.

“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.

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“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 they’re my values.”

Henderson was among a collection of long-serving Liverpool players to trade Merseyside for Saudi Arabia during the summer. Alongside his move to Al-Ettifaq, Fabinho completed a lucrative move to Al-Ittihad and Roberto Firmino joined Al-Ahli as a free agent.

With Reds legend Steven Gerrard at the helm, Al-Ettifaq have lost only one of his first five league games, with his side sitting fifth in the table. Henderson is yet to score in four first-team appearances.

The 33-year-old has suggested that he was destined for less game time at Liverpool if he stayed at Anfield this season. He captained the Merseysiders to a Champions League triumph in 2019 and a Premier League title the following year.

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