Jordan Henderson, Saudi Football and the Double Standards of Outrage
A rational perspective on footballers’ earnings and the emerging Saudi Pro League
In today’s Daily Mirror column by Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler, the seasoned sportsman tackles the emerging trend of UK football stars venturing into the Saudi Pro League. Fowler addresses the intense scrutiny on footballers’ wages and the double standards of criticism when comparing footballers to other wealthy individuals. Here’s our take on the points made by Fowler, maintaining the utmost respect for his viewpoint, while providing our perspective on the matter.
Fowler’s Stance on Footballers’ Wages
In a bold opening, Fowler addresses the outrage that has surfaced due to reports that England international Jordan Henderson could earn a staggering £700,000-a-week if he makes a move from Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia. Fowler expresses bewilderment over the selective scrutiny towards footballers’ wages, particularly when the astronomical earnings of financiers receive little to no attention.
“I’ve never quite understood why footballers’ wages are such a sensitive topic, while the billions earned by financiers are never questioned,” Fowler states.
The former Liverpool striker makes a compelling point. For some reason, society appears more comfortable criticising the earnings of those in the public eye, such as sports personalities, while overlooking the financial gains of those whose influence largely operates behind the scenes.
The Saudi Pro League: An Exciting Opportunity or an Ethical Dilemma?
Fowler also tackles the controversy surrounding British football figures becoming involved in the Saudi Pro League. Drawing from his own experience, he dispels any idea that money is the sole motivation behind such a move. Having himself taken a coaching role in Saudi Arabia, he emphasises that ambition and professional growth are the driving forces behind such decisions.
“This is my fourth head coach job now, and I back myself to succeed in this business… It shows the ambition and belief I have… and you don’t fulfil your ambition by sitting in front of your TV watching everyone else get jobs while you don’t,” Fowler explains.
Furthermore, he dismisses claims that the growing financial muscle of the Saudi Pro League is about to upend the hierarchy in world football. The influx of funds is part of a broader initiative to strengthen the country’s sporting footprint, with the Asian Cup in 2027 and a potential World Cup bid in 2030 on the horizon.
Double Standards: Footballers, Politics, and Money
In Fowler’s eyes, it seems that the backlash against footballers migrating to the Saudi Pro League is due more to prejudice against footballers earning large sums of money than to the actual merits or demerits of the Saudi initiative. He highlights the disparity between societal reactions to footballers earning high wages and other sectors of society profiting significantly, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Meanwhile, the rich get obscenely richer in our society, and no one says a word. People and companies got dubious contracts during Covid, they profiteered, and hardly anyone said a word,” Fowler laments.
Fowler also pinpoints a paradox where footballers are criticised for involving themselves in politics, as seen with Marcus Rashford’s campaign to feed children, yet are simultaneously expected to take a political stance by avoiding the Saudi Pro League due to the country’s human rights record.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) July 16, 2023
Fowler’s column offers a revealing look into the complex dynamics surrounding footballers’ wages and their involvement in foreign leagues. It prompts readers to question why we place certain expectations on footballers, whether it’s regarding their earnings, their career choices, or their political responsibilities.
As this conversation continues, it’s essential to remember the importance of individual choice, ambition, and the personal growth of the athletes involved. Robbie Fowler’s sentiments serve as a vital reminder that we should try to see beyond our prejudices and understand the nuances of these controversial issues.