It’s been a minute since Liverpool’s men have played some football, and thankfully that has helped captain Jordan Henderson heal from his injury and report to the England men’s team during this international break. England, of course, are readying themselves for some Nations League action ahead of the World Cup this winter.
Henderson admitted to some negative feelings on Wednesday, regarding family and friends traveling to watch him participate in the tournament. After bad experiences at Wembley for the Men’s Euro final and then again this past May in Paris for the Men’s Champions League final, it’s pretty understandable.
“My family and friends have had a couple of experiences over the last couple of years, which has really shocked them and probably put them off going to future games,” Henderson said.
“Hopefully that changes in the near future when it gets closer to the tournament. But when you see scenes like you have in the Euros final, in the Champions League final, then they don’t really want to go and put themselves in that situation again.
“My wife and kids had to try and get in a side door (at Wembley) which they wouldn’t let them in at the beginning. And they were trapped. She was trying to get the kids away from all the middle of what was happening and eventually I think after about 15-20 minutes, somebody recognised that she was my wife and she was lucky that, because they knew it was me, they let them in quickly.
“But if that person didn’t, I mean, it could have been trouble. My dad was involved a little bit, I think some of the players’ dads, like Harry Maguire’s, was hurt badly.
“I think we all know that that wasn’t great, that was a bad experience for a lot of people that final. Then we have Paris, which is probably even worse. So I don’t blame anyone that doesn’t want to put themselves in that situation and, to be fair, there are two totally different reasons, but again, if it was me, I wouldn’t want to put myself in that situation.
“My dad said that, after the Champions League final, that was him done. But when it gets closer to it, I think there’s a lot of security elements and things that are going on in Qatar that I’m sure will make people more safe.”
Henderson isn’t the only one concerned for his family’s safety, as Eric Dier recently commented something similar in trying to protect his mother from traveling. These are all understandable and valid concerns as the trips for these matches have taken a turn for the worse in recent years. Of course, it is more often than not the stadium authorities ratcheting up the tensions, like we saw in Paris, and Henderson described his family getting caught in the traumatic events there as well.
“Some of my family got caught up in it which wasn’t ideal. A lot of the players’ families, I think it is everyone, got caught up outside the stadium,” continued Henderson.
“I think it was pretty horrific. When I spoke to some of my friends and my family and my dad, it was pretty bad.
“I think in Paris in the final I think if the fans weren’t respectful there could have been a lot more problems, to be fair, so I think the fans were amazing.
“It was the authorities and the people around the stadium that weren’t and were causing issues. But I suppose as a fan, if you’re going to the game and you don’t feel comfortable and you feel threatened by whatever situation, you’re not going to want to go again. And it’s as simple as that really.”
Even going to the bar has become a struggle for this writer following the events of Paris in May, so the idea of traveling to those major international matches is a complete non-starter (as if I had the means anyway). Even disregarding the humans rights violations surrounding the Qatar World Cup, too. Henderson also joins the other Liverpool players who have described the treatment that their families went through in Paris just to support them at one of the biggest matches of their careers.
No fan should have to be legitimately worried for their safety at a football match, something we all go to to enjoy the sport and the community of the fandom. The fact that these major players are having to speak out because their families feel unsafe is only an escalation of the problem as officials continue to pin it on the fans.