LGBTQ+ England fans to protest Jordan Henderson in Euro 2024 qualifier after Saudi signing

Jordan Henderson during a football match, wearing a green football shirt.

England football fans are planning to stage a protest against Jordan Henderson if he plays during the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine.

The former Liverpool midfielder came under fire earlier this month after switching to Saudi Pro League team Al-Ettifaq.

Henderson faced criticism for moving to the Saudi Arabian team following years of pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy due to the Middle Eastern country’s archaic laws on homosexuality.

Openly identifying as LGBTQ+ in Saudi Arabia is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or the death penalty under Sharia law.

It is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for LGBTQ+ people according to Equaldex, which placed Saudi Arabia below Uganda – a country that recently made openly identifying as homosexual illegal – on its worldwide equality index.

The 33-year-old player, who is now believed to be earning £700,000 a week, has still be selected by England manager Gareth Southgate for the Euros squad, and may appear against Ukraine on Saturday (9 September).

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But, if Henderson makes it to the pitch, members of the country’s biggest LGBTQ+ fan group, Three Lions Pride, have said they plan to voice their opposition to his inclusion in the game.

“Having spoken to some of our members, there was a real sense of disappointment,” the group’s co-chair, Joe White, told the Daily Mirror.

“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.”

White said that things became considerably worse in the group after the England player issued an apology that didn’t go down well with fans.

Henderson said he still cared about the causes he championed while playing in the Premier League and that saying that the reaction to his Saudi move “really hurt me.”

“I can understand the frustration. I can understand the anger. I get it,” he said.

“All I can say is that I’m sorry they feel like that. My intention was never to hurt anyone. My intention has always been to help causes and communities where I felt they had asked for my help.”

When asked if he would wear rainbow laces in Saudi Arabia, the midfielder replied saying he wouldn’t “rule that out” but that he didn’t want to disrespect the “culture in Saudi Arabia”.

White explained that, following the statement, he wont be surprised if people “are more likely to boo or show an audible distaste”.

The official position of the group is that the protest will be to turn their backs, but White added that if the crowd wished 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,” he said.