does not believe Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia is a reason for fans to boo him and remarkably claims: ‘I’d back him against pretty much everyone in the country in terms of what he stands for and what he believes in.’
Henderson started in England’s win over Australia on Friday but was met with boos from some of the home fans at .
This comes as a result of his summer move to the from Liverpool, flying in the face of his public support of the LGBTQ+ community in the past.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, so Henderson’s move to Al-Ettifaq has been viewed as a huge let down for the community he has showed support to in the past.
Southgate’s decision to keep picking the 33-year-old despite his move to the Saudi Pro League has also come into question, but the England boss says he will continue to select whoever he feels will do the best job for him, and does not think Henderson should be booed for his move to Al-Ettifaq.
‘I’ll always pick the players that I think are the best players to represent the team,’ Southgate told a press conference on Monday. ‘That give us the best chance of winning, unless there’s something I feel is not appropriate.
‘In this instance, people might disagree with Jordan’s decision, given the stance he’s taken in the past to support the community, but I don’t think that’s a reason to not select him and I don’t actually think that’s a reason to boo him.’
Southgate insisted that Henderson’s ‘values and principles’ have not changed despite his move to Saudi Arabia, although he admitted that the transfer does not align with them.
‘I don’t understand why we would boo our own team. What I do understand is that people would feel that the decision Jordan made to go and play there doesn’t align with his strong support of the LGBTQ community in the past,’ he said.
‘I’ve not seen him comment anywhere differently, I don’t believe he’s an individual whose values and principles have changed.
‘I’d back him against pretty much everyone in the country in terms of what he stands for and what he believes in. But I accept that his decision to go and play there doesn’t align with that. So he understands that, he accepts that.
‘But I repeat, when we are playing for England I feel that everybody should be behind the team. But if people choose not to be then we have to deal with that.’
England host Italy at Wembley in Euro 2024 qualifying on Tuesday night.
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