Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq have caused controversy through their announcement video for the transfer of Jordan Henderson. The former Liverpool captain had previously faced criticism for moving to Saudi Arabia, given the nation’s policies against LGBTQ+ individuals and communities. The video in question has done little to mitigate the criticism, and instead, it has led to further backlash from fans online.
Henderson, who was sold to Al-Ettifaq for $15 million, was announced via a video celebrating his career. It tracked his rise from youth Soccer to Liverpool, featuring multiple pictures from his time at Merseyside. However, there was a glaring omission, as Henderson’s captain’s armband was altered in a majority of the images. The changes came in the form of a grayscale filter, used primarily to hide Henderson’s rainbow-colored armband.
A leader 💪🏻 A warrior ⚔️
We’re simply thrilled to have him ❤️💚
— Ettifaq Club (@Ettifaq_EN) July 27, 2023
Saudi Arabia is known to have strict policies against homosexuality and, by extension, the LGBTQ+ community. The announcement video serves as a reflection of their stance on the matter, as the club’s media team took special measures in order to hide the universally known symbol. The move attracted a plethora of criticism from fans online, with many labeling it ‘distasteful’.
It would appear that Ettifaq have made a stylistic choice to grey out the colour of most of Jordan Henderson’s captain armbands in this video. I’m sure it has nothing to do with some of them featuring the rainbow LGBTQ+ flag though… https://t.co/Jl1eCEPqfx
— Danny Corcoran (@calcio_danny) July 27, 2023
You’d have to say Al-Ettifaq greying out his rainbow armband is a bad start for the people who claimed Jordan Henderson would attempt to ‘change minds’ on LGBT issues in Saudi Arabia lol https://t.co/ZNVdECFZ9s
— Alfie | HITC Sevens (@HITCSevens) July 27, 2023
The 33-year-old also received his fair share of flak for agreeing to the move. Fans had hoped that England International could bring out a change in mindset in Saudi Arabia. But following the shocking video, all such hopes are dead and buried.
Jordan Henderson leaves LGBTQ community ‘disappointed’ following move to Saudi Arabia
Henderson is known to be an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ+ community. However, many believe that his transfer to Saudi Arabia will have a massive impact on his reputation. There’s also evidence to suggest the same, including a statement from 3LionsPride, an LGBT England supporters group. In it, the group stated, that they were “beyond disappointed” by the transfer.
3LionsPride, a fan group for LGBT England supporters, said it was “beyond disappointed” after the deal was reached https://t.co/f5dajg4UHV
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 20, 2023
The group famously unfurled a banner in the midfielder’s honor to commemorate his support for the cause. However, the statement alludes to a hint of regret on their part: “If the rumors are true, then that banner will be consigned to the depths of history.” It remains to be seen whether Henderson issues a direct response to all the criticism.