England's national soccer coach Gareth Southgate defended his captain Jordan Henderson against boos from his own fans after his move to Saudi Arabia.
"I don't understand it," Southgate said of the reaction of supporters who booed Henderson in the 1-0 friendly win over Australia in London. He couldn't understand why a player who "gives his heart and soul for England" wouldn't be supported. “How is this going to help him or the team?”
The 33-year-old Henderson moved to Saudi Arabia last summer after twelve years at Liverpool FC. Numerous fans, especially from the LGBTQ community, criticized Henderson for the change. The midfielder had repeatedly spoken out against homophobia before his move. The abbreviation LGBTIQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and others. Homosexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia.
The game at Wembley was the first home game for England's national team after Henderson's move. He was booed by some fans when he was substituted in the 62nd minute. Southgate then encouraged Henderson, who had worn the captain's armband in the absence of the rested Bayern striker Harry Kane. “His commitment and what he does for England is extraordinary,” said the 53-year-old. "His role within the team and on the pitch is phenomenally important."