Jordan Henderson has apologised to LGBTQ+ fans, revealing he is hurt by suggestions he turned his back on them.
The 33-year-old joined Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League this summer, the team managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
Ex-Reds skipper Henderson received a heavy backlash for his decision to move to a country where homosexuality is illegal, having been a leading voice in the Rainbow Lace campaign and wearing a rainbow armband.
The England international has since linked up with Gareth Southgate’s England squad for upcoming European qualifiers.
Henderson has responded to the criticism, in an interview with The Athletic.
“I think there was always going to be criticism regardless of what I did, whether I stayed, whether I went,” he said.
“So basically I had to make the decision on what was best for me and my family.
“And obviously the LGBTQ+ community. I can understand the frustration. 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 had asked for my help.
“Now, when I was making the decision, the way that I tried to look at it was I felt as though, by myself not going, we can all bury our heads in the sand and criticise different cultures and different countries from afar.
“But then nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to change. 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.
“For people to criticise and say that I’d turned my back on them really, really hurt me.”
When Henderson joined Al Ettifaq, the club posted a welcome video on their official X channel, formerly known as Twitter.
His captain’s armband had been blurred throughout, meaning his support for the Rainbow Laces campaign couldn’t be seen.
Henderson revealed he would wear a rainbow coloured armband, if the opportunity came in the future.
“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,” he added.
“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.
“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 that’s my values.”
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