Britain’s only openly gay footballer has described Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia as a ‘slap in the face’ following his support of the LGBTQ+ community.
The former Liverpool captain sent a message of support to Jake Daniels when he came out last year, but the Blackpool player has not heard from Henderson since he completed a £12million move to join Al-Ettifaq in July
The England international was criticised for his move to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex sexual activity is illegal, as campaigners felt it contradicted his support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Henderson had been vocal in his support of the rainbow laces campaign and ending LGBTQ+ discrimination in football during his time at Anfield.
Daniels told BBC’s Newsbeat the former Liverpool midfielder sent him a message saying he was ‘proud’ of his decision to come out 18 months ago.
Jake Daniels has described Jordan Henderson ‘s move to Saudi Arabia as a ‘slap in the face’ following his support of the LGBTQ + community
Daniels became Britain’s first openly gay professional footballer since Justin Fashanu in 1990 when he came out 18 months ago
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‘He was backing me and said: “We’re proud of what you’ve done”,’ he explained.
‘Seeing him move to Saudi, it kind of like, slaps me in my face really.
‘But I guess the money pays well, and money must mean more to people.’
Davis also revealed he’d spoken to Steven Gerrard before the Liverpool great joined Al-Ettifaq as a manager.
‘I met him in person and he said: “If you ever want to get in contact then message me” – but he moved over,’ he explained.
Henderson signed a £700,000-a-week deal but has repeatedly insisted his decision to join Al-Ettifaq was not financially motivated.
In an interview with The Athletic in September, hw said he understood the anger surrounding his move to Saudi Arabia, but claimed he moved to the country to help ‘grow the sport all over the world’.
He said that people were aware of his ‘views and values’, claiming that his presence in Saudi Arabia could ultimately be a ‘positive thing’, despite the barrage of criticism coming his way.
‘I can understand the frustration. I can understand the anger. I get it,’ Henderson said.
Henderson faced criticism from the LGBTQ+ community by moving to Saudi Arabia
The England international joined Al-Ettifaq in July, where he was reunited with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard
Henderson had been vocal in his support of the rainbow laces campaign and ending LGBTQ+ discrimination in football during his time at Anfield
‘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.
‘I think people know what my views and values were before I left and still do now. And I think having someone with those views and values in Saudi Arabia is only a positive thing.’
His response was widely panned by Liverpool’s LGBTQ+ fan group Kop Outs!, which accused Henderson of declining any responsibility for his ‘role in sportswashing’ and trying to ‘disguise the disgusting Saudi human rights record’.
Henderson had previously been nominated for ‘Football Ally’ at the LGBT+ Awards in 2021, having made headlines for his supportive tweet to Liverpool fan Keith Spooner during the Rainbow Laces campaign.
The midfielder had also declared himself as ‘proud’ to be considered an ally and said it was important to stand alongside the LGBT+ community during Liverpool programme notes made during the Rainbow Laces campaign in 2021.
Davies warned football risked to undermine the progress it’s made on the LGBTQ+ front by hosting the World Cup in Qatar last year and awarding the 2034 edition to Saudi Arabia
‘I do believe when you see something that is clearly wrong and makes another human being feel excluded you should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them,’ Henderson wrote at the time.
‘You also have a responsibility to educate yourself better around the challenges they experience.
‘That’s where my own position on homophobia in football is rooted. Before I’m a footballer, I’m a parent, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to the people in my life who matter so much to me.
‘The idea that any of them would feel excluded from playing or attending a football match, simply for being and identifying as who they are, blows my mind.
‘The idea they’d have to hide from it to be accepted? But that’s exactly how too many members of the LGBT+ community feel. We know this because they tell us. So we should listen, support them and work to make it better.’
Daniels is Britain’s first openly gay footballer since Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 and one of the few high-profile gay men in the sport.
Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo became the first openly gay top-flight footballer in the world in October 2021, before Czech Republic international Jakub Jankto came out in February.
Some players have also come out after their careers were over, such as former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger and ex-Hull City youth star Thomas Beattie.
But Davies warned football risked to undermine the progress it’s made on the LGBTQ+ front by hosting the World Cup in Qatar last year and awarding the 2034 edition to Saudi Arabia.
‘We were starting to see a bit of progress,’ he said. ‘Then the Qatar World Cup happens and we go back again.
‘If I was involved in the World Cup and went over, I wouldn’t feel safe, and that’s putting my football in jeopardy.’
Post source: Daily mail