Fulham boss Marco Silva ‘outstanding’ for Saudi stance as Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson compared

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Fulham boss Marco Silva has reaffirmed his commitment to the club after turning down a £31 million deal to move to Saudi Arabia.

Fulham supporters and Premier League football fans have praised Marco Silva for turning down a lucrative offer to join Saudi Arabian side in favour of staying at Craven Cottage, as scrutiny grows on Liverpool star Jordan Henderson.

The 46-year-old has said he is ‘fully committed’ to the project at Fulham after the side finished 10th on their return to the top flight last season.

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Silva had been offered a huge £31 million two-year deal to take the managerial role at Jeddah-based Al Ahli, who have already snapped up Riyad Mahrez, Edouard Mendy and Roberto Firmino this summer as the Middle Eastern country strengthens its grip on world football.

Explaining his decision, Silva said: “My commitment to this club has been 100% since the first day I signed and will continue this way. Offers are part of the business. We’ve had two great seasons at this football club, players have improved and managers are in the spotlight as well. It is up to us to think, respecting the club that you are working [for].

“It’s what I’ve always done in my career and keep doing. It’s a decision I made, I spoke with the people in the club and my full commitment to the club will continue.”

Reacting to the news online, fans of Fulham and supporters wanting to protect the game from growing Saudi money influences, applauded the manager.

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One social media user wrote: “Outstanding from Silva there is nothing like the feeling of something when someone does the right thing for the right reasons. The Premier League is the greatest most intense league in the world he’s obviously thinking of his career.”

Another added: “To turn down that amount of money, to build a legacy at Fulham is nothing short of incredible. You have to tip your hat to the man. Finally, some pushback against Saudi influence.”

Marco Silva turned down a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia (Image: Getty Images)Marco Silva turned down a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia (Image: Getty Images)
Marco Silva turned down a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Meanwhile, others demanded that Fulham erect a statue of Silva in praise for his decision as others praised a ‘good man’.

Another user said: “Marco Silva apparently has stronger principles than Jordan Henderson.”

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Silva’s links to Saudi Arabia, and subsequent dismissal of interest, come at a time when the Liverpool captain is rumoured to be on the verge of a move to the country - links that had come under heavy criticism from fans.

Henderson was named Football Ally of the Year at the LGBT Awards in 2021 and had written passionate letters of support to the LGBTQ+ community in programme notes over the years

The 33-year-old once wrote: “My view on this is very much the same as on any other form of discrimination in the game, whether it relates to race, religious intolerance, disability or any other. I have never personally experienced any of these injustices in my life until now, so I can never and would never claim to have an understanding like those who suffer from the ignorance of others.

“But I do believe when you see something that is clearly wrong and makes another human being feel excluded you should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. You also have a responsibility to educate yourself better around the challenges they experience.

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“That’s where my own position on homophobia in football is rooted. Before I’m a footballer, I’m a parent, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to the people in my life who matter so much to me. The idea that any of them would feel excluded from playing or attending a football match, simply for being and identifying as who they are, blows my mind.”

In Saudi Arabia, should a same-sex couple attend a match at Al-Ettifaq they could be arrested for doing so.

In the country, same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under Sharia law and can be punishable by death. Transgender people can also be prosecuted for failing to follow strict Saudi dress codes imposed by the law.

Human Dignity Trust reports ‘substantial evidence’ of the law being enforced in recent years with LGBTQ+ people frequently arrested, with some executed for their sexuality.

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There have also been ‘consistent reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBTQ+ people in recent years, including murder, assault, harassment, and the denial of basic rights and services’.

Liverpool LGBTQ+ supporters group Kop Outs - who shared a Tweet praising Marco Silva’s stance - have slammed the proposition of Henderso moving to a Saudi Arabian side. A statement read: “Kop Outs have valued the allyship shown by @JHenderson. We are appalled and concerned that anyone might consider working for a #sportswashing operation for a regime where women & LGBT+ people are oppressed & that regularly tops the world death sentence table?

“We hope that Jordan Henderson proves to be a man of his word and stays true to the values of our club, which so far he has been an absolute embodiment of.”

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