Jordan Henderson’s Move to Al-Ettifaq Sparks Controversy Over LGBTQ+ Allyship


The football world was taken aback by Jordan Henderson’s decision to join Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq, especially considering his vocal support for LGBTQ+ inclusion within football. The move has ignited a heated debate, with former German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger criticizing Henderson’s choice and questioning his dedication to the LGBTQ+ community. The transfer has raised ethical concerns and triggered strong reactions from fan groups. In this article, we delve into the aftermath of Henderson’s move and its potential impact on his standing as an LGBTQ+ ally.

Henderson’s Commitment to LGBTQ+ Inclusion 

Throughout his career, Jordan Henderson demonstrated a genuine commitment to promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance within football. He actively participated in the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign, using his platform to advocate for diversity and inclusivity. His efforts earned him praise, and he was regarded as a role model for aspiring players striving to support marginalized communities.

The Shocking Move to Al-Ettifaq 

In a surprising turn of events, Henderson bid farewell to Liverpool after 12 years and signed with Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League. The three-year contract, reportedly worth £700,000 per week, raised eyebrows due to Saudi Arabia’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Thomas Hitzlsperger and others criticized Henderson’s decision, citing the country’s laws where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.

Saudi Arabia’s LGBTQ+ Rights Situation 

Saudi Arabia’s strict laws concerning LGBTQ+ rights pose an ethical dilemma for footballers like Henderson. The country’s harsh penalties for same-sex relations clash with Henderson’s previous advocacy for inclusion and equality. The move has sparked a broader conversation on footballers balancing financial opportunities with their moral values, and the responsibility of players as role models for social change.

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Fan Groups’ Reactions 

Fan groups, including Kop Outs, Liverpool’s official LGBT+ fans group, expressed disappointment and concern over Henderson’s move. They questioned whether Henderson’s support for the LGBTQ+ community was genuine, considering his decision to play in a country with discriminatory laws. The Liverpool Supporters’ Board, comprising representatives from various fan groups, also voiced their disappointment, emphasizing the significance of inclusivity within football.

The Ethical Dilemma for Footballers 

Henderson’s transfer to Saudi Arabia brings to light the ethical dilemmas faced by footballers when confronted with opportunities in countries with controversial human rights records. Players find themselves torn between advancing their careers and upholding their values as advocates for inclusion. The situation sparks a broader discussion on the intersection of sports, politics, and human rights.

The Future of Henderson’s Allyship Legacy 

As discussions continue, the football community remains uncertain about the implications of Henderson’s controversial move. Questions arise about the sincerity of his allyship to the LGBTQ+ community and how this decision may shape his legacy. The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of genuine advocacy and allyship within football. The sport must continue to address its role in promoting inclusivity, with players playing a crucial part in driving positive change.


Jordan Henderson’s move to Al-Ettifaq has sent shockwaves through the football world, prompting discussions on LGBTQ+ allyship, ethics, and the responsibilities of players as role models. Henderson’s previous support for LGBTQ+ inclusion has come under scrutiny, and the impact of his controversial decision on his legacy remains uncertain. As football moves forward, the importance of genuine allyship and advocacy will be paramount in fostering an inclusive and accepting environment within the sport.

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