Jordan Henderson & The Great Betrayal

Jordan Henderson is rumoured to be on £200,000 per week as the captain of Liverpool Football Club. The idea that he needs to move to Saudi Arabia in order make ‘life-changing money’ is laughable. The former Sunderland man is on the amount of money every week that most people would struggle to make in a decade. Regardless, there are plenty of people that have taken to social media in recent days in order to declare that he couldn’t possibly turn down the sort of money that he is being offered. At the moment, him, his kids and his grandkids are set for life, but we’re supposed to believe that he couldn’t possibly walk away from such a huge offer because of the financial benefits? For me, there are some things that are more important than money. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself how much you would have to be paid to work for the S*n. For me, that isn’t a hypothetical. As an actor, I am often asked to audition for that advert and there is no amount of money that would cause me to do so.

Saudi Arabia is a country in which women and minorities are oppressed. It is regularly at the top of the list in the world for executions and members of the LGBTQ+ community cannot be themselves in the country as it is illegal for them to do so. There is a huge problem with homophobia in football. The number of out gay footballers can be counted on one hand. Jordan Henderson chose to stand up and be an ally to this much-maligned community, even though he didn’t need to. He could’ve done what most footballers do and simply keep his head down, not saying anything either way. Yet instead he stood up to be counted and made numerous statements in support of LGBTQ+ people, saying that football is for everyone. By choosing to go to one of the most oppressive countries in the world as far as that community is concerned, Henderson has not only betrayed those he purported to represent but made everything he said into a lie, all to be a little bit richer than he already is.

Does It Matter?

There will be countless people who think it doesn’t matter. Just because he’s made it clear in the last few days that he’s willing to go to Saudi Arabia in order to more than double his wage, what difference does that make to LGBTQ+ people and other repressed minorities? After all, he did a lot of good work when he stood up for them in the past. The problem is, the homophobes, transphobes and other people with appalling views often make nonsense claims such as that people only support LGBTQ+ causes in order to ‘virtue signal’ and they don’t really believe what they’re saying. By choosing to take the millions of Saudi Arabia, Jordan Henderson is playing right into the hands of the very worst people. He is effectively saying that he didn’t believe what he said, because his beliefs weren’t strong enough to stand up to the call of cash. Take a look at the mentions of the Kop Out Twitter account and you’ll see exactly the sort of people that have been emboldened to say whatever they want because of Henderson’s decision.

Since making my feelings known on Henderson’s decision to follow Steven Gerrard to Saudi Arabia, I have been on the receiving end of plenty of people telling me I’m wrong. I would, apparently, take that money if I was offered it. I was also mistaken for putting my faith in a footballer, given that they’ll all betray you. It is why Henderson’s decision matters. It allows people to suggest that no one has morals and money can buy anything. Even if the captain doesn’t end up leaving this summer, which is now looking more than possible, the damage has been done. He has betrayed those that loved him, trusted him and put their faith in him. He has shown that money is the only thing that matters, even if you’ve already got more of it than most people could only dream of. This isn’t just about a 33-year-old leaving Liverpool and the Reds getting decent money in return. It is about an advocate for much-maligned people letting them down for his own benefit, without any care for the effect it will have.

It Isn’t Racist To Call Out An Oppressive Country

The fact that we’re talking about Saudi Arabia means that those who wish to defend the country will call you racist for pointing out there atrocious human rights record. There is nothing racist about drawing attention to a country that oppresses people simply because of who they fall in love with. Draw attention to it and you will often be told to respect the cultures of other countries, but that is not an argument that I buy into. When South Africa was going through the period of apartheid, it was a racist governance that no one sensible said should be respected because of the different culture. Saudi Arabia is a country with a homophobic policy that is not about ‘different cultures’. Those defending it are simply showing up their own phobias, not willing to stand up to this one because they don’t care enough to do so. If the S*n owned a football club and was offering Jordan Henderson £700,000 per week to play for it, would those same people be saying ‘that’s money you can’t turn down’?

Criticising the likes of Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean that you think that countries such as Britain, the United States or European nations are squeaky clean. We very much have our own problems over here and if the Tory Party or Royal Family set up a football league then I would have just as big a problem as I do with the Public Investment Fund doing so. Whilst Al-Ettifaq isn’t one of the club’s owned by PIF, the Saudi Arabian government effectively underpins everything that happens there. It is also important to remember that we’re talking about a dictatorship, so the idea that anything happens there without the permission of the ruling party is laughable. No one asked Jordan Henderson to stand up for LGBTQ+ people, he chose to do it. Now he has chosen to turn his back on those he was an ally for and left countless people disappointed with him as a result. He might well still be a Liverpool player next season, but he will no longer ever have the respect from many he once had. That was his choice and is a crying shame.

One Response
  1. July 16, 2023

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