After a lengthy spell on the sidelines, just like this writer, Jordan Henderson returned to action for the Reds during their 3-1 win against Spanish side Osasuna on Monday.
While he had featured briefly during England’s ultimately failed Euro campaign, Henderson had been out with a groin injury since February - just another addition to last season’s injury troubles.
He returned to the squad last week and while be unready to start this weekend’s season opener, there is one thing that the captain is ready to keep on with.
“On behalf of all of the players at Liverpool, I want to restate our commitment to taking the knee in the Premier League this season and welcome the decision that was taken by the Premier League last week,” said Henderson.
Liverpool FC, both men’s and women’s teams, will continue to take the knee before each match in protest of discrimination. A controversial choice for some, and surely there will continue to be some unsavory backlash, but for Henderson and women’s captain Niamh Fahey, it is the only choice.
“There has been unfounded debate about why footballers are continuing to demonstrate in this way but there should be none. It is very simple – we are protesting against racism,” the captain continued.
“The question should no longer be why are we doing it, it should be why wouldn’t we? This is a necessary response to a problem that we know exists and which we also know should not be happening.
“So I’m proud of my teammates when we take the knee and I also couldn’t have been prouder to be captain of this club when our supporters applauded us as we did so.
“It is only by doing what is right and coming together that we can achieve positive change and it is in this spirit that we will carry on taking the knee.”
This writer isn’t really in a position to debate the efficacy of the gesture, as a white woman who continues to benefit from racist systems that would keep people of color down. Jordan Henderson is also a white person who benefits from the same systems that would see his teammates, brothers in many ways, kept from benefiting from some aspects of life that he would gain easily.
His staunch belief in doing what is right, doing something as simple as taking a knee before a match, is what makes him a worthy captain. That’s not something this writer has to remind anyone of.
Fahey also supported Henderson in this stance, saying: “As a women’s team we’re pleased that the football authorities will once again support squads who wish to take the knee.
“We saw even this summer around the Euros that the scourge of racism remains not just in football but in society. It shows, sadly, that the reason we took the knee last season remains every bit as relevant this season.
“It is our way of saying there is no place for racism or other forms of discrimination in our game, and that things must change.”
This gesture, however small, can and does speak volumes for the integrity of our players, of our squad, in standing up for what is right. Even as the Women’s team continue to battle their own issues of sexism in the sport, they are supportive of the fight against racism alongside it and will continue to exhibit that support.