Liverpool’s LGBGT+ fans group Kop Outs are “appalled and concerned” club captain Jordan Henderson is considering a move to Saudi Arabia side Al Ettifaq.
The England midfielder is understood to be a target for the team now managed by Steven Gerrard, the man Henderson assumed the armband from at Anfield, with reports suggesting the 33-year-old is close to accepting an eye-watering £700,000-plus-a-week offer.
Henderson has been a significant supporter of both the group and LGBGT+ issues – he is a Rainbow Laces ambassador – and so suggestions he is ready to move to Saudi Arabia, whose human rights record has long been criticised, has prompted an angry response from Kop Outs.
“Kop Outs have valued the allyship shown by @Jhenderson,” said a statement on Twitter.
“We are appalled and concerned that anyone might consider working for a #sportswashing operation for a regime where women & LGBT+ people are oppressed & that regularly tops the world death sentence table?”
“Gerrard’s participation in this sportswashing is particularly galling given his previous support for LA Galaxy team-mate Robbie Rogers (who came out as gay in 2013).
“When someone’s made a fortune, should money tempt them to go to work? Maybe they should be asking themselves those questions.
“We hope that Jordan Henderson proves to be a man of his word and stays true to the values of our club, which so far he has been an absolute embodiment of.”
It is understood Liverpool have yet to receive an approach from Al Ettifaq and the player still has two years to run on his contract, which in itself means any potential move would involve a transfer fee more significant than the nominal amount being suggested in the Middle East.
Liverpool’s midfield is undergoing a revamp this summer with the experienced James Milner leaving for Brighton and the contracts of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita expiring and they have been replaced by Argentina World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and Hungary captain Dominik Szobozslai for a combined £95million.
That may mean reduced playing time for Henderson, who has lifted every elite trophy during his captaincy of the club, but there is no appetite within the club to lose such an experienced player and integral part of the dressing room.
Former team-mate Jamie Carragher said if Henderson does accept a deal then he also has to take the criticism which will inevitably come his way.
“The money is difficult to turn down hence why virtually no one has, a great servant & player for Liverpool,” the ex-defender-turned-pundit wrote on Twitter when asked about Henderson.
“Not a player in his prime but again a big statement to get the Liverpool captain to the Saudi league.
“He will get criticism because he got a lot of praise for his stance on LGBT+ in the past.”