THE BEGINNING OF THE HEND?
While it may not be the most attention-grabbing headline of the day, the news of Jordan Henderson’s potential move to Ajax, following the end of his contract with Al-Ettifaq, would surely surprise anyone who time-traveled from last January. Despite earning Liverpool a £12m fee just six months ago, Henderson is now on his way to another top European club, who would not have realistically paid that amount for him. In the meantime, he has played 17 games in Saudi Arabia, with no goals and four assists, while earning around £10m in wages. Jordan, as the younger generation would say, is playing a strategic game.
However, the choice to go to Amsterdam through Dammam has had a negative impact on the reputation of the Henderson brand. As a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and a vocal supporter of the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign, his decision to move to a country where being LGBTQ+ is illegal and punishable by death was unexpected and disappointing. Liverpool’s LGBTQ+ fan group, Kop Outs, questioned if he was truly an ally. Jake Daniels, the first active British male footballer to come out in over 30 years, expressed feeling disrespected by Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia.
During his six months of running and speaking in front of large crowds, Henderson has tried to evade questions about why he joined the wealthy Saudi club Al-Ettifaq. In an interview with the Athletic, he tried to juggle multiple conflicting stories – insisting that the move was not solely about money, but also about feeling valued. He also claimed to empathize with the LGBTQ+ community’s frustration and anger, while justifying his decision to play for a country with different views and values. When asked if he still supports the Rainbow Laces initiative, he replied with a definite yes. However, he stated that he would not wear rainbow laces while playing in Saudi Arabia.
Henderson’s transfer has not only negatively affected his career, but also his reputation off the field. The boos directed at him during the Wembley game may have been a response to his hypocrisy rather than his lack of experience in high-stakes matches. However, it is also possible to argue that he is not the only player deserving of criticism for choosing to play in a country with human rights issues without speaking out against them. Throughout his unsuccessful time at his new club, Henderson has maintained that he cares about the fans who feel betrayed by his decision, although his words often seem contradictory. He could try to justify his move to Ajax by claiming it was a result of a moral dilemma. However, he is not the only high-profile player seeking a move from Riyadh these days. It is more likely that his decision was motivated by his diminishing role in the national team, the upcoming Euros, and the emergence of versatile full-backs who can fill his position in Gareth Southgate’s midfield. As cynical as it may sound, modern football has shaped our perspective in this way.
The event is currently streaming on a large website.
Come follow along with Dominic Booth at 5pm GMT as he provides live coverage of the Afcon match between Morocco and Tanzania. After that, Scott Murray will take over for the rest of the evening’s FA Cup third-round replay games.
“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”
“The way we respond to life’s events is more important than the events themselves.”
“It will be an incredibly special event. Our team, Newport County, will face off against Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. In my opinion, Manchester United is the biggest and most renowned club in this country, in Europe, and in the world. It’s hard for me to fully comprehend the magnitude of this game. Manchester United is a team with an incredible reputation. The fact that they will be playing at our home stadium, Rodney Parade, is a remarkable accomplishment. I can’t even fathom the excitement my family must be feeling right now.” – Graham Coughlan, manager of Newport County and a devoted Manchester United fan, believes that their upcoming FA Cup match against the Jonny Evans All-Stars is the most significant game in the club’s history, surpassing even their quarter-finals appearance in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1981.
FOOTBALL DAILY LETTERS
For the past few years, I have been monitoring the Fair Play Times, which is the equivalent of David Rose’s Football Daily letters from yesterday. My method involves dividing possession time by fouls committed to determine which teams tend to foul quickly when not in possession. Chelsea and Liverpool have consistently ranked in the top four for the past three and a half seasons, with Leeds and Brighton also making frequent appearances. On the other hand, West Ham tends to be the team with the fewest fouls, or the slowest to foul. Crystal Palace consistently ranks among the teams that are fouled most frequently when in possession, along with Aston Villa both before and after Jack Grealish’s departure. Teams with high possession rates like Manchester City and Liverpool are fouled less frequently, and Manchester United also seems to receive relatively few fouls. Sincerely, Rob Hamilton.
Mick Beeby proposes that Chelsea supporters attend screenings of Todd Boehly’s new film, Argylle, and stand up in solidarity to chant their favorite football songs in response to Boehly’s disruptive PR stunt at the Chelsea v Fulham game last weekend. The stunt involved men in green jackets standing together at the back of the dugout, performing mundane tasks such as brushing their teeth and reading books, in what seemed to be a promotion for Argylle.
Please email your correspondence to [email protected]. Congratulations to Rob Hamilton, the winner of today’s letter of the day. Rob will receive a copy of The Africa Cup of Nations: The History of an Underappreciated Tournament, published by Pitch Publishing. You can check out their football book store by clicking here.
The newest episode of Football Weekly is dedicated to the Afcon tournament.
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