In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is illegal. Being one’s authentic self is a crime, and the association of former and, possibly, current Liverpool players to the region is jarring.
Steven Gerrard was lured to the riches of Saudi Arabia for his new management gig and he looked like a military leader or a government official when recently explaining his move to Al-Ettifaq.
The former Liverpool captain said he “got a real family feeling” when visiting the country, one that we cannot forget has questionable human rights, a history of torture, strict laws for women and criminalises LGBTQ+ people.
It is in direct contrast to what Liverpool FC and the city stands for, one of acceptance and where everyone is welcome.
Now, no decision has yet been made when it comes to the Liverpool captain making the move but that has not stopped many pondering the implications if he did.
Kop Outs have valued the allyship shown by @JHenderson
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? https://t.co/NVjxO2y1hU
— Kop Outs! ??????????? (@LFC_LGBT) July 13, 2023
Kop Outs, an organisation in support of Liverpool’s LGBT+ fans, have said on social media that they have “valued” Henderson’s “allyship” but are “appalled and concerned” that anyone would consider working under such a regime.
They hope 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.”
As for Gerrard, his “participation in this sportswashing is particularly galling given his previous support for LA Galaxy teammate Robbie Rogers.
Kop Outs added, “When someone’s made a fortune, should money tempt them to go to work? Maybe they should be asking themselves those questions.”
Perfect day at Anfield. Football is for everyone. ? pic.twitter.com/DknTz7Cva5
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) November 27, 2021
“Football is for everyone,” Henderson wrote in 2021 in support of the LGBT+ community.
The expected social media responses will point to the fact they’re ‘just footballers or managers’, ‘let them get their pay check’, or ‘they’re not hurting anyone’.
It completely missing the human element of it all and by accepting the ludicrous money it is a silent acceptance of what goes on – that goes for the football authorities too.