Euro 2024: Jill Scott makes her view on Jordan Henderson move clear

Jill Scott Jordan Henderson

Former England midfielder and proud LGBTQ+ icon Jill Scott commented on Jordan Henderson’s controversial move to Saudi Arabia ahead of the England vs Ukraine Euro 2024 qualifier.

Henderson, previously captain for Liverpool, has faced criticism following his signing with Saudi Pro League team Al-Ettifaq after years of positioning himself as an LGBTQ+ ally and wearing the rainbow armband on numerous occasions. The 33-year-old is now reportedly earning £700,000 a week with Al-Ettifaq.

Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for LGBTQ+ people, where openly identifying as LGBTQ+ is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or the death penalty under Sharia law.

While speaking as a pundit on Channel 4 ahead of the clash between England and Ukraine on Saturday (9 September) at Wembley Stadium, former Lioness Scott said: “I’m a Jordan Henderson fan but now I know I wouldn’t be welcome if I wanted to watch him play football.” 

Scott has been engaged to her long-term partner, Shelly Unitt, since 2020.

Booing from fans could be heard when Henderson took possession of the ball at Wembley, and England’s biggest LGBTQ+ fan group, Three Lions Pride, had previously expressed their intention to protest Henderson’s appearance on the pitch after an apology from the Al-Ettifaq midfielder was slammed as “gaslighting”.

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Co-chair of Three Lions Pride Joe White told The Mirror: “Our position as a group is turning backs. [It] is done in a way that still respects the England team, but makes the point quite clearly that we don’t have respect for Jordan anymore.”

In a statement shared on X, previously Twitter, Three Lions Pride said the announcement of Henderson’s England call-up prompted only “apathy for a footballer who has failed us” rather than “tangible excitement”.

England manager Gareth Southgate urged fans to get behind the controversial midfielder in the run up to Saturday’s qualifier, saying that Henderson’s “feeling towards” the LGBTQ+ community “hasn’t changed”.

“I think Jordan expressed himself this week that he would be sad if that’s how they felt,” Southgate said when questioned about the potential for protests. “His feeling towards that community hasn’t changed.

“As a team, I’m sure all of our fans are going to get behind the team when the game starts.

“I understand some of the comments that have been made and I respect the comments that have been made, but what has also said is they will get behind the team when we play, and I’m sure they will get behind Jordan when the game starts as well.”

Jordan Henderson of Al-Ettifaq reacts during the Saudi Pro League match between Al-Ettifaq and Damak at Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium on 2 September 2023 in Ad Dammam, Saudi Arabia. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

However, fans weren’t shy about expressing their displeasure at Southgate’s decision to start Henderson on social media, with one user posting: “Trying to work out how Jordan Henderson is still being not only selected by started by England in the year 2023 after a move to Saudi Arabia.”

Another fan wrote that they hoped Ukraine win because “Jordan Henderson starting for @England is a disgrace”.

The Al-Ettifaq captain has defended his move, telling the Athletic: “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.”