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Soccer Star Defends Decision To Play In Saudi Arabia After Being Called Out By LGBTQ+ Fans

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson faced harsh criticism when he took a $15 million deal to play in Saudi Arabia—and now he's defending himself against the backlash by saying having someone like himself in the anti-gay country is 'only a good thing.'

Jordan Henderson
FA/The FA via Getty Images

Former Liverpool soccer star Jordan Henderson just made his first appearance at Wembley Stadium after signing with a Saudi Arabian club over the summer, and the displeasure of the crowd was audible.

Henderson, an LGBTQ+ ally, faced heavy backlash from his fans when he took $15 million to play in anit-gay Saudi Arabia.

After the match, Henderson sat down with Channel 4 Sports and defended his decision to move, claiming he has "no regrets" and that having someone like him in Saudi Arabia is "only a good thing."

Henderson said:

“I think having someone like myself, with the values that I have, in Saudi Arabia is only a good thing."
“Before I went to Saudi people knew the groups I supported and helped in the past.”
“My values haven’t changed as a person just because I’m going to a different country to play football.”

Henderson also claimed that there haven't been any restrictions put on him, but in return he is expected to "respect their values, religion, and culture, as well."

Ummmm... who wants to tell him?

You can watch, below.

Henderson also shared he believed some of the criticism stemmed from his wording during different interviews, specifically the way he said he didn't go to Saudi Arabia solely for the money.

He previously told The Athletic:

“People will see this club come with loads of money and he’s just gone, ‘Yeah, I’m going.’ When in reality that just wasn’t the case at all."
"People can believe me or not, but in my life and my career, money has never been a motivation. Ever."

But then he added:

“Don’t get me wrong, when you move, the business deal has to be tight."
"You have to have financials, you have to feel wanted, you have to feel valued. And money is a part of that."
"But that wasn’t the sole reason. And these possibilities came up before money was even mentioned.”

But viewers of the interview weren't changing their minds.

Henderson also shared with The Athletic that the way people have reacted to his move is hurtful.

"There can be a lot of criticism, a lot of negativity around me as a person. And that was difficult to take."
"But I just feel as though, because I do care about different causes that I’ve been involved in, and different communities… I do care. And for people to criticise and say that I’d turned my back on them really, really hurt me."

And as for the disappointment from the LGBTQ+ community, he is sorry... "that they feel like that."

"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."