Liverpool's LGBTQ+ fan group Kop Outs! has posted a scathing response to Jordan Henderson's transfer to Saudi Arabia.
Henderson's £12m move to Al-Ettifaq was all-but confirmed on Wednesday after the long-serving Reds captain posted an emotional goodbye video to his social channels.
While the video was well-received by Liverpool stars, past and present, Henderson's exit has left a bitter taste for many due to both the manner of the move and the choice of his next destination.
The 33-year-old will reportedly receive £350k a week, tax-free, in a three-year deal to join up with Steven Gerrard's new side in the city of Dammam.
A prominent supporter of the LGBTQ+ community for many years during his time as Liverpool captain, Henderson has been widely criticised for a perceived betrayal of his allyship in moving to a country where homosexuality is illegal and, in some cases, punishable by death.
Following Henderson's goodbye video, Liverpool's LGBTQ+ fan group Kop Outs! posted a thread on Twitter expressing 'disappointment' with the midfielder, while also questioning Liverpool as a club for accepting Saudi money.
𝗦𝗼 𝗛𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻, 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗽𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘄 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀? pic.twitter.com/ylepunzP6k
— Kop Outs! 🌈⚽🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@LFC_LGBT) July 26, 2023
The statement reads: "Given choices he has recently made, Kop Outs doubt & question if @JHenderson was ever an actual ally.
"We are deeply disappointed that he is choosing to work as part of a sportswashing operation, attempting to distract from a regime where women & LGBT+ people are oppressed, & that regularly tops the world death sentence table.
"This regime was responsible for the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It flogs people just for advocating for others' human rights. It is gobsmacking that a father of young children is moving to a regime that is set to break its promise on executing juveniles.
"Gerrard's participation in this sportswashing is particularly galling given his previous support for LA Galaxy teammate Robbie Rogers. Any other former teammates should beware.
"We hope that Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard don't have to personally experience the harsh reality faced by LGBT+ people and real advocates for human rights.
"We question the decision of @LFC to accept money from such a regime. We have long campaigned for Liverpool to resist investment from countries with poor human rights records. It is also a concern as to the due diligence beyond the reputational damage such a deal inflicts."
"The history of new football leagues is mixed to say the least: wages unpaid or late (11 out of 16 Chinese clubs in arrears in November 2021), transfer fees unpaid for purchases (Saudi based Al-Nassr still owe Leicester City for the 2018 signing of Musa), and most disturbingly, the plight of French player Zahir Belounis who was trapped in Qatar for 2 years when his club refused to grant him an exit visa.
"We urge football home and abroad to be a force for decency in our world. For football to be the beautiful game, it has to confront the ugly, and not try to be a figleaf for death, torture and abuse."
Last week, England's LGBTQ+ fan group 3 Lions Pride called Henderson a 'sell out'.
Beyond disappointed. A sell out like Becks.
Looks like we’re back to one banner. https://t.co/4S2v5H46j2
— 3LIONSPRIDE 🌈🦁🦁🦁⚽️🏴🏳️🌈 (@3Lionspride) July 19, 2023
Meanwhile, Stonewall — Europe's largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation and partner in the Premier League's rainbow laces campaign — released a statement thanking Henderson for using his platform to promote inclusivity, while remaining 'hopeful' he can continue his work despite the move to Saudi Arabia.
Robbie de Santos, the organisation's Director of External Affairs, said: "We are grateful to Jordan Henderson for using his platform to stand up for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports and fitness, including by wearing our Rainbow Laces. In the ten years since our campaign started, public attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in sport have improved considerably, and this is thanks in no small part to bold allyship from athletes such as Henderson.
“We can’t deny the reality of lives for the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia, and we hope that Henderson continues his work to build towards a world where sport is everybody's game."