England international Harry Maguire has sparked a heated controversy with an LGBT+ supporters group, Three Lions Pride.
The booing was sparked by Henderson’s move to the Saudi Pro League, a country known for its strict anti-LGBT+ policies.
Henderson, a vocal advocate for LGBT+ issues during his time as Liverpool captain, received a hostile reception from some fans, prompting Maguire to express his discontent.
“Proper England fans don’t boo players,” Maguire said.
“Don’t boo players who dedicate their life to play and do everything they can to make this country have good memories and have special moments for them and their families.
“You heard when he came on the cheers and a few jeers, but they aren’t England fans.”
Henderson spoke out to clarify his position but did not help the situation as he only angered the LGBT+ community.
He addressed the controversy surrounding his move to the Saudi Pro League. He acknowledged the misrepresentation of his previous statements and highlighted a key aspect of his decision.
“I have said that before, and I did an interview a few months ago, and some of the stuff that I said didn’t come out in the way I thought I said it or how I think that was the truth,” Henderson said.
“An example of that would be that, in terms of I didn’t go out there solely for the money, I think that’s a big difference between it’s not a sole reason, rather than saying I didn’t go out there for the money.”
Despite Henderson’s efforts to provide insight into his move, Three Lions Pride remains deeply concerned about the implications of his choice to play in Saudi Arabia.
Maguire’s comments drew swift criticism from Three Lions Pride, a group that includes many members who had booed Henderson.
They accused Maguire of trying to silence fan expression and regressing to a time when LGBT+ fans felt unwelcome in football.
In an exclusive interview with Mirror Football, a spokesperson for the group emphasised the importance of fans’ voices and the range of actions they can take to express their views.
The spokesperson acknowledged that booing is not an ideal way for fans to support their team but argued that it reflects the depth of sentiment surrounding Henderson’s choice.
The spokesperson said: “Booing is never something that fans wish to do to their own team, but it is indicative of the strength of feeling around this issue and Henderson’s choices.
“It is clear that it is not just LGBT+ fans who think that he is a Saudi sellout.
“To say that fans who follow this team loyally home and away, and at great personal expense, are not ‘proper’ fans gatekeep the game – how else would Maguire like fans to register their distaste?
“There’s a lack of interest in listening to the dialogue or nuance that fans and fan groups have spent their free time raising, and unfortunately that means that the only way to be heard is with direct action.
“Gatekeeping football to what a player believes makes a ‘proper’ fan harks back to a time where LGBT+ fans weren’t welcome and excludes people from the beautiful game. Fans are the soul of the game. Without us, there is no atmosphere.
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