In an extensive interview with The Athletic, the former Liverpool captain has addressed his controversial move to Al-Ettifaq. Henderson has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and his move to a country which criminalises homosexuality prompted widespread criticism.
Henderson, in an interview with Liverpool’s matchday programme in October last year, said of wearing Rainbow Laces: “I have regularly worn rainbow laces and today will be no exception because this kind of visible support can only have a positive impact.
“It also sends the powerful message that football is for everyone and the more of us who can take this message back into our homes, workplaces and daily lives the better.”
Less than a year later, Henderson says he is open to promoting the same message in the Middle East but not at the risk of being disrespectful to his new fans.
“I wouldn’t rule that out,” he said. “But at the same time, what I wouldn’t do is disrespect the religion and culture in Saudi Arabia. If we’re all saying everybody can be who they want to be and everybody is inclusive, then we’ll have to respect that.
“We’ll have to respect everyone. And by doing something like that, if that did disrespect the religion, then no, I’m not going to do that. But if the opportunity comes where I can do it and it doesn’t, then yeah, because that’s my values.”
Henderson was also asked about the video announcing his signing on Al-Ettifaq’s social media channels, which appeared to show the rainbow armband he wore as Liverpool skipper greyed out.
The midfielder again insisted it would not be right for him to wear rainbow colour as it would be insulting to the local culture and religion.
“I didn’t know anything about it until it was out,” he added .”And it’s hard for me to know and understand everything because it is part of the religion.
“So if I wear the rainbow armband, if that disrespects their religion, then that’s not right either. Everybody should be respectful of religion and culture. That’s what I think we’re all trying to fight for here in terms of inclusion and everything.”