Jill Scott has criticised Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia – pointing out that she would not be able to watch him play for his new club Al Ettifaq.
Scott is England’s second most capped women’s player, having amassed 161 appearances before her retirement last summer after helping the Lionesses win the European Championships.
The 36-year-old is gay – she got engaged to long-term partner Shelly Unitt in March 2020. Henderson’s decision to move to Saudi, where homosexuality is illegal, has left her feeling uncomfortable.
Speaking before England men’s 1-1 draw against Ukraine on Saturday, Scott told Channel 4: “In terms of the morals and values, I’m a really big Jordan Henderson fan, he’s a Sunderland lad and really hard-working.
“But for me, the fact that I couldn’t go and watch him represent his team, that’s what doesn’t sit well for me. Football for me is for everyone and the fact that I don’t feel like I would be welcome (to watch him play), that’s a very sad situation.”
Henderson – who had previously been a public advocate for the LGBTQI+ community – was widely criticised by gay rights groups for moving to the Saudi Pro League last month.
Liverpool fans’ group Kop Out described his decision as “appalling” while 3LionsPride, an England supporters’ organisation, accused Henderson of hypocrisy.
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic last week, Henderson insisted he had not moved to Saudi simply because of the finances on offer and defended himself from charges of double standards.
“I can understand the frustration. I can understand the anger. I get it. All I can say around that is that I’m sorry that they (fans who feel let down) feel like that. My intention was never, ever to hurt anyone,” he said.
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(Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)