Jordan Henderson will be met with a protest from England’s LGBTQ+ fan group, if he features in England’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine on Saturday.
The 33-year-old left Liverpool this summer to sign for Saudi Pro League side Al Ettifaq, managed by Steven Gerrard.
Having previously been a high-profile supporter for the LGBTQ+ community from within men’s football, Henderson’s move to a country where homosexuality remains illegal caused widespread controversy.
The ex-Liverpool captain faced a backlash for his decision to go to Saudi Arabia, with Liverpool’s LGBTQ+ fan group Kop Outs! among those to post a scathing statement regarding his transfer.
Henderson faced further criticism when he gave an interview to the Athletic, in which he was pushed on his decision to go to Saudi Arabia and whether he would continue to be an advocate for inclusivity and equality.
Despite his move and the controversy surrounding it, the midfielder has still been selected by England manager Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions’ September internationals. However, should he feature in the match against Ukraine on Saturday, Henderson will be met with a fan protest.
England LGBTQ+ fan group 3 Lions Pride have announced a plan to turn their backs on the former Liverpool number 14, should he enter the field of play at Wembley, as a show of their disapproval.
Speaking to Mirror Football, co-chair of the group, Joe White, is quoted as saying: “Having spoken to some of our members, there was a real sense of disappointment. There was a question on whether people were intending to boo and the original intention was to try to focus on being supportive of the team.
“But if we wanted to make a stand, then turning our backs is quite a symbolic move, particularly given how the community has felt. Since his interview, that may well change. I would imagine people are more likely to boo or show an audible distaste.
“There are members attending who we’ve spoken to and told the position of the group, which is to turn backs. If they want to boo that’s a personal decision. The issue with booing when you’re part of the England fan movement, it could also turn other fans against you who might not know the reasons behind it.
“That was why our position as a group is turning backs. [It] is done in a way that still respects the England team, but makes the point quite clearly that we don’t have respect for Jordan anymore.”
In the now infamous interview, Henderson admitted he ‘can understand’ the anger he has caused some people. However, White stressed that the door remains open for the midfielder to engage 3 Lions Pride in a dialogue, so that the group can express why there is such ill-feeling around the transfer.
“Jordan is the perfect example that unless you’re affected by these issues, you don’t really understand or comprehend the full extent of how this impacts. He comments when told about our protest that he was ‘very hurt’,” White said. “Well, in Saudi Arabia, LGBT+ people’s feelings aren’t just hurt, they can be killed. Our door, like with any England player at any level, is always open, as long as it’s for a constructive conversation.
“We’re here to help. That’s one of the purposes of the group. It’s to help people understand why we exist, what we’re here for and what people can do to help. Our message has been consistent.
“Even though we’re criticising his move, our door is always open to discuss why to try to come up to a point of understanding. At no point have we had any conversation, even since doing Rainbow Laces, we haven’t had any contact from him or his team.”